ASEAN hopes to expedite code of conduct on South China Sea

Above, foreign ministers at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers’ Meeting retreat in Singapore. Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of ASEAN. (Reuters)
Updated 07 February 2018
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ASEAN hopes to expedite code of conduct on South China Sea

SINGAPORE: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is hoping to expedite negotiations on a code of conduct with China for the disputed South China Sea but it isn’t realistic to expect an agreement within a year, Singapore’s defense minister said on Wednesday.
China and the 10-member ASEAN bloc adopted a negotiating framework on the code in August and have commenced talks on the code itself over the disputed and busy waterway largely controlled by China but also claimed by some ASEAN states.
“We hope it will be expedited but it’s a very, very complex issue,” Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters after a gathering of ASEAN defense chiefs.
“It’s a century’s old dispute. Expecting (the code) in one year is just unrealistic,” he said.
ASEAN and China have hailed the conclusion of the negotiating framework as a sign of progress.
However, the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding raised doubts about the effectiveness of the pact.
Signing China up to a legally binding and enforceable code for the waterway has long been a goal for claimant members of ASEAN, some of whom have sparred for years over what they see as China’s disregard for their sovereign rights and its blocking of fishermen and energy exploration efforts.
Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday some of his ASEAN colleagues had expressed concerns about ongoing activities by China in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, including land reclamations.
Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands.
Singapore has taken over the role of chairing ASEAN for 2018 and hosted meetings of the group’s foreign and defense ministers this week.


US calls on Russia to destroy new missile system

Updated 18 min 46 sec ago
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US calls on Russia to destroy new missile system

GENEVA: The United States called on Russia on Monday to destroy a new cruise missile system which it said constituted a “direct violation” of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and accused Moscow of destabilising global security.
“Unfortunately, the United States increasingly finds that Russia cannot be trusted to comply with its arms control obligations and that its coercive and malign actions around the globe have increased tensions,” Robert Wood, US disarmament ambassador, told the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament.
“Russia must verifiably destroy all SSC-8 missiles, launchers and associated equipment in order to come back into compliance with the INF Treaty,” he said, reiterating the Trump administration’s plan to withdraw from the 1987 pact in early February.