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Alarm over North Korea's missile tests, a tentative step to temper South China Sea disputes, and unease over a disastrous siege by pro-Daesh (ISIS) group militants will grab the spotlight at annual meetings of Southeast Asia's top diplomats and their Asian and Western counterparts. The 27 nations participating in three days of talks and photo-ops in Manila starting Saturday include the United States, Russia, China, Japan, and South and North Korea. The Philippines is host as this year's chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Along with South Korea and Japan, the U.S. is expected to lead condemnations of the launches at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) annual security talks to be held Monday.Removing North Korea from the grouping, however, would be tough. There is no exclusion procedure and ARF decides by consensus, so any U.S. move against North Korea could be defeated by any country, including China.
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