The United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are taking their relationship to a new level, thanks to heated tensions in the South China Sea.
China, a key ally of North Korea, has said its committed to denuclearizing the Northth Korea, but has not been to agree with the US or the United Nations on how to achieve that goal.
Asean leaders have reiterated their stand on wanting a peaceful resolution to the overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
A joint statement said the ASEAN countries ministers “remained seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and [had taken] note of the concerns expressed by some members about land reclamation and the escalation of activity” in the South China Sea.
They also called for faster implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), signed by ASEAN and China, and the finalizing of a long-delayed, more-binding Code of Conduct (COC).
At the US-ASEAN Summit held in Sunnylands, California, earlier this month, the territorial dispute was a major topic, but the resulting joint statement did not specifically name the South China Sea, instead calling for “respect for each nation’s sovereignty and for international law”.
The Obama administration has increasingly recognised the importance of the Asia-Pacific. This was reflected in the Obama administration’s ‘Asia pivot’ in 2011. The US-ASEAN summit held in California is a reflection of this commitment to deeper engagement.
The main topic on the summit agenda was enhanced security cooperation, particularly with respect to the South China Sea.
President Obama confirmed that the US and ASEAN were committed to lowering tensions in the South China Sea, including a halt to further land reclamation and militarisation.