ASEAN releases joint statement on East Sea

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One week after an ASEAN summit ended without the customary joint-communiqué, the ten member nations on Friday released a statement on the East Sea.

­Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong announced ASEAN's six-point principles on the East Sea, also known as South China Sea.

He said ASEAN's foreign ministers had reaffirmed the commitments made by member nations, including full implementation of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea; full support for DOC guidelines; an early conclusion of the Regional Code of Conduct on the South China Sea; full respect for universally recognized principles international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; the continued exercise of self-restraint and no use of force; and peaceful resolution of conflicts in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The ASEAN foreign ministers "resolve to intensify ASEAN consultations in the advancement of the above principles, consistent with the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (1976) and the ASEAN Charter (2008)," the Vietnam News Agency reported.

However, the announcement did not mention recent incidents in the East Sea sparked by China's aggressive actions.

The 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on July 13 failed to issue a joint communiqué. Reuters quoted diplomats as saying that a key sticking point previously was a refusal by Cambodia, a close China ally, to mention bilateral disputes in the sea, pitting it against Manila, which wanted a reference to a months-long standoff with Beijing over the Scarborough Shoal.

Hor Namhong said the statement was the outcome of consultations between ASEAN's Foreign Ministers after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa launched a diplomatic initiative, meeting directly with the foreign ministers of Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia to reach a consensus on their common positions on this issue.

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