Tillerson underscores importance of United States tie-up with ASEAN

Southeast Asian nations feud over China sea claims

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Within ASEAN, however, there is a view sympathetic to China, which has ignored the ruling.

Manila, Aug. 6 (Jiji Press)-Japanese Foreign Minister Kōno Tarō expressed deep concerns on Sunday over China's island-building and militarization in the South China Sea.

The ministers gathered two days after the U.N. Security Council adopted fresh sanctions on Pyongyang that will slash the nation's $3 billion of annual export revenue by a third in response to its two long-range missile tests in July. This has delayed the expected release of an ASEAN communique today.

Thornton says the USA wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there's "not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen".

Southeast Asian nations feud over China sea claims

"We are not pro-China, pro-US, pro-Japan, pro-whatever". Vietnam Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh is among top diplomats from more than 20 countries attending meetings in Manila this week.

Predictions of tense discussions between Su-yong and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi (and a pointed snubbing from Tillerson) were proven correct. The ministers called on the global community to implement strictly UNSC resolutions and impose additional diplomatic and economic measures to address the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) threat posed by the North Korean regime and its destabilizing behavior, and to make further efforts to urge North Korea to abandon its current threatening and provocative path and immediately take steps to denuclearize.

Tillerson met with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha on the final day of the Summit, with the pair telling media the outcome was "good".

The diplomat says the South China Sea may be settled faster and will likely not carry sensitive issues that China objects to because the ministers are aware of Beijing's crucial economic and trade relations with ASEAN member states.

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If the arrival of Tillerson in the region was meant to indicate a renewed interest in Southeast Asia for the Trump administration, the bloc's statement on the South China Sea indicates it may well be too late.

Manila filed the case in January 2013 after China took control of Scarborough Shoal, 124 nautical miles from the Philippines' north-western coast. Asean also includes Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand.

"Overall, the tone was positive, the situation is calmer", he said.

But after the election of President Rodrigo Duterte previous year, Manila has played down the verdict in favour of pursuing warmer ties with Beijing, a move that led to offers of billions of dollars in investments or aid from China. Differing expectations between Beijing and ASEAN of what the code of conduct should look like also likely mean the negotiations will be anything but straightforward.

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Foreign ministers from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations members plus Japan, China and South Korea agreed Monday they will bolster financial cooperation to promote economic stability in the region.

China had always been perceived as delaying negotiations with the association for the maritime code to allow it to launch and complete its land reclamations in the South China Sea without any such regulatory restrictions. The exploration was suspended after diplomatic protests from China.

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