Manila OKs Korean defector’s transit to Seoul

Manila will allow a high-ranking North Korean defector in China to use the Philippines as a transit point on his way to Seoul, Philippine Foreign Minister Domingo Siazon told his Japanese counterpart, Yukihiko Ikeda, Mar. 17 in Tokyo, according to Foreign Ministry officials.

Siazon, however, did not mention when and how long Hwang Jang Yop, the highest-ranking North Korean official to ever seek asylum, would be in the Philippines, the officials said. Manila made the decision in an effort to contribute to regional stability, the officials quoted Siazon as telling Ikeda.

Ikeda said that although Japan is not directly involved, it hopes the defection is successfully resolved because a failure to do so would negatively impact the situation in Northeast Asia, the officials said. Ikeda and Siazon also signed documents for Japanese loans amounting to 124.2 billion yen for 14 construction projects in the southern Philippines and agreed that the two countries will cooperate in developing the area.

Ikeda also called for improvement in Philippine policies concerning acceptance of official development assistance so Japan’s ODA could be smoothly provided, according to the officials. Siazon responded that lawmakers are currently discussing ways to improve the situation, the officials said.