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Pakistan should be invited to the upcoming annual meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum to sit on the same table with India and discuss regional security, which has been strained by the two rivals’ recent nuclear tests, Vice Foreign Minister Shunji Yanai said Monday.

Yanai said Pakistan should be admitted as a member, or at least an observer, to ARF, the 21-member security consultation body on which India sits. The ARF meeting will be held in Manila in late July. “The issue (of the two countries’ nuclear tests) is a security issue for the entire Asia-Pacific region, and it should be discussed with their presence,” Yanai said.

ARF includes such major powers as the United States, Japan, China, Russia and the European Union, as well as the nine members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Foreign ministers from each of the participating nations gather once a year in an ASEAN country.

Yanai reiterated Japan’s regret over the nuclear tests carried out by Pakistan and India, saying they fundamentally threaten international efforts toward nuclear nonproliferation.

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