Asean, China debuts COC ‘single draft’ for future talks on sea row

Lamar Ellis
August 4, 2018

It is set to be issued by foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the close of meetings underway with other global lawmakers in Singapore. Moscow has denied involvement.

"EAS is one of the best examples where dialogue takes place to address even the most sensitive issues among the world's major powers".

The suggestion to exclude outside countries "is obviously targeted at the USA which has been dominating the waters of the Western Pacific and the South China Sea in particular", Hoang Thi Ha, from the Asean Studies Centre, ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said.

Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Thursday, at the start of the annual meeting of top diplomats from China and the association's member nations, the development is a "milestone".

Asean-related meetings to be held in Singapore through Saturday will include foreign ministers not just from Asean but such countries as Australia, Canada, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas.

The bloc seeks to enhance intergovernmental cooperation and facilitate economic, political, security, military, educational, and socio-cultural integration amongst its members and other Asian states.

"This is good news", Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the ASEAN ministers.

The US "seeks partnership, not dominance", he said as he made the case for US businesses' engagement in the region being crucial to America's mission of peace, stability and prosperity.

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"These initiatives are strategic investments created to spur our partners' engagement with American companies, the greatest force for prosperity in the world", said Mr Pompeo.

Pompeo wrapped up a full day with a meeting with Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, at the Istana in Singapore.

Over the first year and a half of US administration, President Donald Trump attended his first US-Asean Summit and the East Asia Summit in Manila; Vice President Pence visited the Asean Secretariat; and numerous cabinet secretaries travelled to the region, including Pompeo's recent visit to Vietnam. Pompeo met with Mahathir early Friday, and congratulated the people of Malaysia on their democratic transition. After holding ASEAN meetings in Singapore, Pompeo will head to Indonesia.

Their talks came after Washington imposed sanctions on two Turkish ministers over the trial of a US pastor accused of backing terrorism.

FILE - Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, arrives at his house in Izmir, Turkey, July 25, 2018.

The top US diplomat said "Brunson needs to come home, as do all the Americans being held by the Turkish government".

Turkey has also detained three Turkish employees of the USA consulate in Istanbul.

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