ASEAN near consensus on sea row: Indonesia

Southeast Asian nations are "on the cusp" of agreeing a statement of unity on the South China Sea dispute, Indonesia's top diplomat said Thursday after meeting his Cambodian counterpart.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa has taken on the role of mediator after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed to reach a common position on the row at a gathering in Phnom Penh last week.

"Despite suggestions to the contrary, in actual fact ASEAN remains united," Natalegawa told reporters in the Cambodian capital, on the third leg of a regional peacemaking tour after visiting Hanoi and Manila on Wednesday.

Natalegawa said he was working to identify "basic ASEAN positions on the South China Sea", which would dispel the perception that the 10-member group is divided.

"We are now on the cusp of formalising this consensus," Natalegawa said.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, whose country holds the rotating ASEAN chairmanship, told reporters he hoped to announce the bloc's joint position on Friday, pending "approval from all ASEAN foreign ministers".

China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the resource-rich sea, which is home to vital shipping lanes, but ASEAN members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have overlapping claims in the area.

Divisions over members' territorial disputes with Beijing prevented ASEAN from issuing its customary joint statement at the conclusion of its meeting last Friday, an unprecedented occurrence in the bloc's 45-year history.

Diplomats said a key sticking point was a refusal by host Cambodia, a close China ally, to mention specific incidents in the sea, pitting it directly against Manila, which wanted a reference to a months-long standoff with China over the Scarborough Shoal.

The rift has held up progress on a proposed "code of conduct" between ASEAN and China aimed at preventing flare-ups in the contested waters.

After holding talks with his counterparts in Vietnam and the Philippines on Wednesday, Natalegawa urged ASEAN nations to push on with the pact.

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • What can void a new car warranty? James Deakin - Wheel Power
    What can void a new car warranty?

    "I was denied warranty once for changing my horn!" One very annoyed reader wrote. "I was told that placing a backup camera will void my warranty" said another. The others are best left in my private inbox as Yahoo! have a swear jar in the office that I do not feel like donating this week's pay to. Continue reading → …

  • Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources VERA Files - The Inbox
    Docu exposes destruction of PH marine resources

    By Kiersnerr Gerwin B. Tacadena, VERA Files “Gutom (hunger),” Sen. Loren Legarda said is what’s in store for the Filipino people if destruction of the country's marine resources is not stopped. Legarda, chair of the Senate committee on Environment and Natural … Continue reading → …

  • ‘Yolanda’ fiberglass boats modern-day Noah’s ark VERA Files - The Inbox
    ‘Yolanda’ fiberglass boats modern-day Noah’s ark

    By Jane Dasal, VERA Files If you want to save the earth, build a boat. That's what a group of environmentalists is saying, especially if you want to save both the forests and fishermen affected by supertyphoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan). “Haiyan … Continue reading → …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options