US to facilitate East Sea negotiations

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on parties involved in East Sea territorial disputes to respect international law and adhere to region's code of conduct.

"The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia's maritime commons and respect for international law in the South China Sea," Clinton said at her final press briefing in Hanoi before leaving Vietnam on Friday.

The US does not take sides in this issue but will work to facilitate negotiations and implement measures that are consistent with international law, she said.

Clinton also expressed America's interest in the East Asia summit membership. She will represent the US at the summit here in Hanoi in October as it seeks to become an official member of the forum held annually by 10 members of ASEAN as well as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Clinton ended her two-day visit to Vietnam following her attendance at the ASEAN regional forum, in which she reiterated the US's condemning of recent North Korean actions.

Asked to comments on her Asia trip that included countries that the US had engaged in conflict with in the past, including Vietnam and South Korea, and in the present, like Afghanistan, Clinton applauded South Korea and Vietnam for overcoming the legacy of war and conflict.

"Both South Korea and Vietnam are very important models for other countries around the world," she said. "The biggest challenge I face as Secretary of State, is that in many places in the world, people cannot overcome their own past."

The 43rd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and the 17th ASEAN Regional Forum also ended on Friday, with ministers agreeing to facilitate a roadmap for ASEAN to become a united community by 2015 and ensure a region free of nuclear weapons.

The 17th ASEAN summit will be held in Hanoi from October 28 to 30.

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