However both the United States and China are known to be actively preparing military options as communist North Korea threatens to abandon its hermit isolation and emerge as an unpredictable and uninvited member of the 9-member "Nuclear Club" of nations with arsenals of nuclear weapons.
The situation in the South China Sea should also be "generally stable", he said.
Prior to the release of the joint statement, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi had warned any interference from "outside parties" could jeopardise negotiations over the code of conduct.
China's approach to working with the other ASEAN countries is dismissive at best. However, China unilaterally started work to build artificial islands and military facilities in that sea area, and this has prompted ASEAN to advocate devising a pertinent code of conduct at an early date. They (China) are not reclaiming land anymore.
The tribunal ruled that the Spratlys - the main territory under dispute in the sea - were not islands, rather reefs, and "cannot generate maritime zones", or extend China's territorial claims, as maintained by Beijing.
Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha made the statement at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in the Philippine capital of Manila on Monday. The ministers further urged ASEAN member states and China to ensure that the COC be finalized in a timely manner, and that it be legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with global law.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability said the South-China Sea remained a problem and joint statements on the disputed islands had also been a problem.
Al-Shabab's Mukhtar Robow defects to government side
Robow and al-Shabab parted ways in 2013, and since then he had been laying low in the jungles with his forces. Robow had fallen out with the al-Shabab leadership, which has been carrying out a purge of its ranks.
The communiqué of the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Laos also called out against land reclamation and militarization. "In due time, China dropped that and said, "Let's approve the framework and let's go now to the COC", Mr Cayetano told reporters.
An ASEAN declaration in 1992 called for a code of conduct for disputes involving the South China Sea, as did the 2002 joint declaration with China.
Vietnam, which has long pursued the most determined defence of its territorial claims, had argued that any agreement would be meaningless unless it were legally binding.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a congratulatory message to Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, which is the rotating chair of the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations (ASEAN), on the 50th founding anniversary of the regional organization.
In July 2016, the arbitral tribunal in the Hague ruled that Beijing has no legal or historical basis for its nine-dash line, which demarcates its claims to nearly the entire South China Sea.
That's right Semin... China's foreign minister Wang Yi said he was "disappointed" with Taro Kono's call for Beijing to adhere to global law regarding its military base construction in the South China Sea.
He added that "heated discussions" took place about North Korea's missile tests and South China Sea disputes among the foreign ministers at the Asean forum and most countries believed United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang should be fully enforced.