ASEAN top diplomats concerned over situation in Korean Peninsula - communique

Katrina Barker
August 7, 2017

The Philippines is hosting the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum on August 7, Asia's biggest security forum.

The ministers urged North Korea to "to fully and immediately comply with its obligations arising from all the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions".

China has proposed a three-step vision to step up consultations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Sunday after he and his counterparts from ASEAN nations approved the framework of the COC.

All the afore-mentioned achievements testify to the fact that China and ASEAN have the wisdom and capability to properly manage the disputes, formulate a set of regional rules that we all recognize, and preserve peace and stability in the South China Sea, according to the Chinese foreign minister.

They said they "took note of the concerns expressed by some ministers on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region".

He has ignored an worldwide court ruling dashing China's regional maritime claims in a case brought by his predecessor, helping him to secure $24 billion in loan and investment pledges from Beijing.

Foreign ministers in Manila over the weekend emphasized self-restraint in the South China Sea and reaffirmed their countries' commitment to a Code of Conduct in the region.

The communiqué did not mention China, which has been documented to have undertaken large-scale reclamation and improvement works on man-made islands in the South China Sea.

China has in recent years expanded its presence in the sea by building the artificial islands, which are capable of holding military bases.

But, since President Rodrigo Duterte was elected past year, the Philippines has sought to downplay the dispute with China in return for billions of dollars in Chinese investments and aid.

These have all the makings of more dissenting voices emerging in the run-up to the culminating summit in November, voices not necessarily only Asean in origin but also those of China, Japan and the United States and their respective interests in the regional bloc in whose territorial waters traverse an estimated $5 trillion of trade annually.

The joint statement that was scheduled to be released after the ASEAN ministers was delayed because of the dispute over the wording on the sea issue, one diplomat told AFP.

"But of course the caveat there is, we have to have an effective Code of Conduct".

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was expected to galvanise condemnation of North Korea and call for a "serious discussion" on suspending the country from the ASEAN Regional Forum as part of efforts to further isolate Pyongyang.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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