China, Vietnam meeting canceled amid South China Sea tensions

ASEAN Secretariat Le Loung Minh Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and Myanmar Minister of State of Foreign Affairs U Kyaw Tin watch during the Welcome Dinner for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers

North Korea top of agenda at ASEAN meeting

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (6th L) attends the signing ceremony of the amended version of the Memorandum of Understanding on Establishing China-ASEAN Center in Manila, the Philippines, Aug. 6, 2017.

The ASEAN ministers failed to release the joint statement as expected after meeting on Saturday due to their differences on the sea issue, with Vietnam pushing for tougher language and Cambodia lobbying hard for China.

Congratulating ASEAN on its 50th Anniversary, the ministers noted the central role ASEAN has played in the development of the Asia-Pacific regional architecture and its contribution to the region's stability and prosperity.

The two primary issues at the formal sessions are North Korea and the South China Sea.

Duterte then said that North Korea would be a good dialogue partner of the Asean.

Today, Tillerson will take part in the ARF, the Asean-led forum to promote regional security dialogue and cooperation.

Its sweeping claims overlap with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei - all members of the 10- nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc - as well as Taiwan.

"This is to show that ASEAN is serious about North Korea's nuclear tests", one the sources said.

He stressed that Beijing is willing to sacrifices its own economic interests "for the sake of supporting global system of nuclear non-proliferation and to maintain peace and stability in the region".

South Korean media reported that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho bumped into South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha at the Manila forum, only to reject the South's offer of reopening talks as "lacking sincerity".

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Besides maritime security and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, regional counterterrorism is said to be also high on the ASEAN agenda.

China's top diplomat said Sunday that talks for a nonaggression pact aimed at preventing clashes from breaking out in the disputed South China Sea may start this year if "outside parties" don't cause a major disruption.

A Philippine government spokesman says Southeast Asian foreign ministers have endorsed the framework for a long-sought code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea.

"This is the current mainstream view of the countries in the region", Wang said.

Tillerson said he asked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov "several clarifying questions" and said the USA will respond by September 1.

"A non-binding COC would be a disaster of the first order". This has delayed the expected release of an ASEAN communique today.

The third step, he added, at the end of this year, when their leaders meet, will be a joint announcement of an efficient step forward on the COC.

Kono also expressed concern about Chinese drilling near the border dividing the two nations' interests in the East China Sea, where the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, claimed by China as the Diaoyu, have frequently frayed ties.

Among the topics of immediate concern are the South China Sea, North Korea and Muslim militants.

Wang Yi also said the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, and China and ASEAN counties have confidence working together in a comprehensive strategic partnership. This is markedly different from the more important summit of leaders in November. The two both participated in other multilateral meetings in Manila, including one between China and the 10 Asean ministers.

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