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Duterte backs Japan in countering North Korea

President Rodrigo Duterte gives a warm welcome to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to the start of their bilateral meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on November 13, 2017. Presidential Photo/Robinson Niñal Jr. 

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday condemned North Korea’s nuclear ambition and backed Japan’s moves to counter threats posed by the rogue state amid heightened tensions.

Duterte had has his fourth bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

At the meeting, Duterte, who chairs this year’s ASEAN meetings, assured Abe of his support in Tokyo’s campaign against North Korea.

Pyongyang has stoked global alarm as it pursues nuclear weapons and missile programs in the face of sanctions slapped by the UN Security Council. It has also revealed its plans to develop a missile capable of striking the US mainland.

It has fired two missiles over Japan.

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“I can assure you that in the matter of the interest of your country and mine, we are supporting you against what North Korea is doing,” Duterte told Abe.

“We have said it several times already in the past that it is not to the interest of North Korea to swagger around and threaten the world, of keeping us hostage with the atomic weapons,” he added.

Despite remote possibilities of the Philippines getting hit by a North Korean missile, Duterte told Abe that Manila is with Japan in pressuring the hermit state to stop its nuclear and missile program.

“We condemn his several launching of missiles. It is bad. It puts a strain on everybody, not only in Japan but all over the world. And he should realize that he’d be responsible for ending life in this planet if his mind goes out of control,” Duterte said.

“That is why we are persuading him, maybe pleading him to stop the aggressive posture... The Philippines is about too far but, you know, nobody will save us from a holocaust if it happens,” he added.

The Philippine leader, known for his colorful language, earlier called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “chubby” and “son of b***h.”

He had also called Kim a “nutcase” playing with “dangerous toys.”

At the ASEAN Regional Forum last August, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho said Washington's hostile policy and nuclear threat towards Pyongyang is the root cause of the problem amid concerns from several foreign ministers.

The foreign minister stressed that North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons is a war deterrence to end the threat and to prevent the military invasion of the US.

The statement came days after ASEAN foreign ministers released a joint statement expressing grave concerns over North Korea's testing of ballistic missiles for the past month.

RELATED: ASEAN calls for de-escalation of tensions in Korean Peninsula

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