ASEAN seeks to heal territorial rift



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Sunday 18 November 2012

Last update 18 November 2012 6:18 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

PHNOM PENH: Southeast Asian foreign ministers sought yesterday to heal a rift over territorial rows involving China, aiming to build unity ahead of a leaders’ summit in which rights and trade will also dominate.
The hot-button South China Sea issue was one of the top items for the ministers as they held a day of talks in the Cambodian capital, following months of acrimony over how to tackle China’s claims to nearly all the waters.
“We wish that we would be able to solve this problem together,” Surin Pitsuwan, secretary general of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, told reporters at the start of the meeting.
“We hope that if there is anything we can do to help to build this new culture of norms... of new habits of working together we would like to help.” The foreign ministers’ meeting is to pave the way for the annual ASEAN leaders’ summit in Phnom Penh on Sunday, which the bloc is hoping will push forward policies on human rights and free trade.
US President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and leaders from six other nations are scheduled to then join their ASEAN counterparts for the two-day East Asia Summit starting on Monday.
Some of the countries involved in the talks have seen diplomatic relations plummet this year because of a raft of maritime territorial rows, and analysts said those disputes would likely overshadow proceedings in Phnom Penh.
ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, as well as Taiwan, have claims to parts of the South China Sea, home of some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to be rich in fossil fuels.
China insists it has sovereign rights to virtually all of the sea, and the Philippines and Vietnam have expressed concerns that their giant Asian neighbor has become increasingly aggressive this year in staking its claim.
An ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting in Phnom Penh ended in July without issuing a joint communiqué for the first time in the bloc’s 45-year history because of divisions over how to handle the South China Sea issue.
The Philippines and Vietnam had wanted the communiqué to make specific reference to their disputes with China.
But Cambodia, the hosts of the talks and a close China ally, blocked the moves.
Surin said yesterday that such a public spat would not be seen this weekend.
“I don’t think it’s going to be confrontational, I don’t think it’s going to be overly contentious,” he said.
But adding to the tensions, analysts said Obama was expected to raise the issue while in Phnom Penh.
Obama is likely to reiterate that the United States has a fundamental interest in freedom of navigation in the sea, while urging ASEAN and China to agree on a code of conduct for the area, according to analysts.
China has long bristled at what it perceives as US interference in the South China Sea, and was upset at last year’s East Asia Summit in Indonesia when Obama succeeded in having the issue discussed there.
Chinese vice foreign minister Fu Ying warned yesterday that China did not want a repeat and that the South China Sea should not be on the agenda at the East Asia Summit.
“Discussion of the South China Sea issue should return to the framework of China and ASEAN. Discussing the issue in other forums will interfere with the direction of cooperation,” Fu said.
Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders are aiming to endorse on Sunday a declaration they say will promote human rights within their 10 countries but which has drawn widespread criticism.
More than 60 rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, issued a statement on Thursday urging ASEAN to revise a draft of the declaration.
ASEAN members are also aiming to kick start negotiations in Phnom Penh over a giant free trade zone with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The 16 nations account for roughly half the global population and around a third of the world’s annual gross domestic product.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

KUWAIT: Kuwait has detained 26 people suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing on a Shiite mosque last month that killed 27 people, a local daily reported on Monday, quoting the public prosecutor.The June 26 attack by Daesh jolted Kuwait, raisin...
JEDDAH: A small fire broke out on the roof of the Grand Mosque on Monday morning, causing minor injuries to five people, including members of the Civil Defense, one security officer and three workers. The fire broke out at about 2 a.m. and covered an...
RIYADH: Mosques across the Kingdom will conduct midnight prayers (Qiyam Al-Layl) at 1.a.m beginning Tuesday to mark the beginning of the last 10 days of Ramadan.“The special prayers are conducted during the last 10 days of the holy month from 1 a.m.,...
JEDDAH: The director general of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority, Saleh Rasheed, has said that Sadeer Industrial City, which is regarded as one of the largest industrial cities in the Kingdom, possesses great capabilities that sets it apart as...
DAMMAM: Cheap and out of date cosmetics are causing serious health problems in the Kingdom, including skin diseases, hair loss and cancer, local doctors say.These products are often manufactured incorrectly or contain harmful fats, the doctors were q...
JEDDAH: Several young Saudis have started filming Jeddah’s historic district using cameras mounted on drones to gather professional 3D footage that can be used to build models and create virtual tours.Bandar Al-Mutlaq, owner of the Arab Foundation, w...
RIYADH: The Saudi capital is fully geared for this year’s Eid Al-Fitr celebrations that include an exciting bouquet of entertainment, heritage, sports, artistic and theatrical events.The annual Muslim festivities being organized here by the Riyadh mu...
JEDDAH: As part of its growing supervisory and investigative status, Riyadh Health Department’s forensics center examined 632 cases over the past eight months involving suspected murder, rape and abuse of women and children.Khaled bin Muhammad Hassan...
RIYADH: The Syrian Expatriates Medical Association (SEMA) expressed its thanks on Monday to Saudi organizations and individuals for donating to the campaign to help Syrians affected by the ongoing conflict.SEMA has 1,300 members in Syria and other co...
RIYADH: Inclusion of the Hail rock art in the UNESCO World Heritage List is proof of the Kingdom’s status and cultural profoundness, said the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) on Monday.Reacting to the announcement of the fou...
JEDDAH: The Yemeni community has asked the Saudi government to extend the rectification process, which ends Tuesday, claiming that there are many thousands still seeking to get proper identification documents to qualify for work visas in the Kingdom....
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has set up 343 electoral constituencies for the Dec. 12 municipal council elections.This was done on the orders of Abdullatif Al-Sheikh, the minister and head of the General Committee for the Munici...
JEDDAH: Efforts are under way to electronically handle all Haj-related works to achieve speed and accuracy, as well as reduce costs an bring in transparency, Haj Minister Bandar Al-Hajjar has said.Speaking at a workshop in Jeddah on Sunday, Hajjar sa...
JEDDAH: The Board of Trustees of the King Abdullah International Foundation for Charity and Humanitarian Works on Sunday held its third meeting in Jeddah in the presence of Prince Khaled bin Abdullah, the board chairman, and Prince Miteb bin Abdullah...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health has announced that six people were infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in the period from June 28 to July 6.The ministry has now recorded 1,045 cases of MERS since June 2012, with 5...

Stay Connected

Facebook