Defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a joint statement on October 23 expressing “grave concern” over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. They urged North Korea to meet its international obligations and resume communications.

The ministers are due to meet with their counterparts from the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, Russia and New Zealand on October 24. North Korea, the disputed South China Sea and terrorism are issues at the top the agenda.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said he will talk with Asian allies about North Korea and the crisis caused by its “reckless” provocations.

Mattis’s trip to Asia, which will also include stops in Thailand and South Korea, comes just weeks before Donald Trump’s first visit to Asia as US president.

In the same statement, the ASEAN ministers reiterated the importance of “safety and freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea” and called for “self-restraint in the conduct of activities”.