ASEAN Hits Snag on South China Sea

ASEAN Hits Snag on South China Sea

Disagreements over language referring to the South China Sea conflict have held up South East Asian nations that are trying to compile a joint statement as they wrap up their ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) forum Thursday.

China’s controversial island building projects in the South China Sea, where some of its neighbors have competing claims, has been a focal point of the summit in Kuala Lumpur.  

Earlier Thursday, Philippines Foreign Affairs Minister Albert del Rosario told reporters "we are trying our best to move forward" on the South China Sea issue.

But officials said the group’s final joint statement has already been delayed over how it will describe the territorial dispute.

China has been creating artificial islands in waters where Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines have overlapping claims.

On Wednesday, China Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country had stopped its land reclamation projects on the waterway.

Iran nuclear deal

ASEAN foreign ministers agreed to back the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In a Thursday statement, ministers said if the deal is fully implemented, it will “contribute to building confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry marked the 70th anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima Thursday, likening the impact of the event to the significance of the Iran nuclear deal.

"It is impossible not to have thoughts about it," said Kerry, as he sat down for talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of the ASEAN forum.

"Needless to say, it is a very, very powerful reminder of not just the impact of war lasting today on people and countries, but it also underscores the importance of the agreement we have reached with Iran to reduce the possibility of more nuclear weapons," he added.

An estimated 140,000 people were killed as a result of the August 6, 1945, bombing of the Japanese city of Hiroshima. An additional 70,000 were killed when U.S. planes dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Nagaski three days later.

The U.S. and its allies said the bombings helped bring an end to World War Two.

Kerry in Vietnam

Kerry is nearing the end of a five-nation tour that has also included stops in Egypt, Qatar and Singapore.

Later Thursday, he travels to Vietnam, where he will mark the 20th anniversary of renewed bilateral ties that were severed four decades ago as the protracted Vietnam War came to an end.

Over the years, the United States and Vietnam have forged strong economic ties, with two-way trade topping $36 billion last year. Both countries are part of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 12-nation trade deal.

However, the United States has continued to raise concerns about Vietnam’s human rights record, including its detention of dissidents.

In July, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted Vietnamese Communist party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the White House.

ASEAN Hits Snag on South China Sea ASEAN Hits Snag on South China Sea Reviewed by Ajit Kumar on 4:58 PM Rating: 5

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