South China Sea tensions to top agenda at ASEAN regional meet
Beijing, July 10 (ANI): Tension over access to territorial waters of the South China Sea is expected to top the agenda for the Association of South East Asia Nations' (Asean) regional meeting to be held this week.
Foreign ministers of the group are meeting in Cambodia before the arrival of their regional counterparts from 16 countries, including China.
According to the BBC, China and several countries in the 10-nation bloc have laid claim to the disputed waters in the area.
"The fact that the world is more interested and attentive and taking the issue more seriously is precisely because this region of the world has become more important to the world," Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN's Secretary General, said.
"They don't want it to be derailed - they don't want conflict that would affect the growth trajectory of this region of the world," Pitsuwan added..S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be also be joining the meeting in Phnom Penh, has called for 'progress' on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, indicating that the United States has an interest in easing the geopolitical tension in the region.
She has urged China and ASEAN nations "to resolve their disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats and without conflict".
China's Foreign Ministry said it is willing to discuss the code of conduct.
"When conditions are ripe China would like to discuss with Asean countries the formulation of the COC [code of conduct]," minsitry spokesman Liu Weimin said.
"But I want to stress that the COC is not aimed at resolving disputes, but aimed at building mutual trust and deepening cooperation," Weimin added. (ANI)
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