Asean seeks South China Sea talks

JAKARTA - The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is seeking early talks with China to discuss a code of conduct to manage tensions over the disputed South China Sea, the bloc's new chief said Wednesday.

Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh (Bloomberg photo)

China claims most of the Sea, including a vital shipping lane and resource-rich areas. The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims in the area, as does Taiwan.

"Asean should speed up efforts towards an early start of negotiations with China with a view to achieving an early conclusion of a code of conduct on the South China Sea," Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh said.

The Vietnamese diplomat was speaking in Jakarta after officially assuming the post of Asean secretary, replacing Surin Pitsuwan of Thailand.

"The South China Sea is not only an issue of peace and stability for countries in the region but it's also an issue of maritime security and safety of navigation, which is of interest to many countries," he said.

In 2011, Asean and China agreed on a non-binding set of guidelines to allow dialogue and cooperation during talks on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

A binding code of conduct is aimed at reducing the chance of conflict among the claimants.

Asean comprises Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Brunei.

Related search: Asean, South China Sea, code of conduct, Le Luong Minh

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