“We urge all sides to do everything that the doors of dialogue will open. Both sides are talking about national security. But there will be no national security if there is a nuclear war, and even if it’s a war with conventional weapons,” Cayetano told reporters during a celebration of International Humanitarian Law Day as quoted by the state-run Philippine News Agency.

Cayetano said the regional bloc has opted to take a decisive diplomatic approach in dealing with the issue to attain a peaceful resolution.

On the sidelines of ASEAN meetings last week, President Rodrigo Duterte told North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho that ASEAN would be “a good dialogue partner” of Pyongyang.

Though Pyongyang clarified that its nuclear program was directed against the U.S., Cayetano, as chair of ASEAN, said both the Philippines and ASEAN are ready to play their part as the issue concerns the region.

“Too many civilians will be immediately affected and then the effects will also be long-term because the economies of the countries in the region and also in the neighboring regions will be severely affected,” he said.

The foreign ministers of ASEAN’s 10 member-states issued a statement early this month reiterating their “grave concern over the escalation of tensions” on the Korean Peninsula.

Anadolu Agency