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China, ASEAN adopt South China Sea negotiating framework

China, ASEAN adopt South China Sea negotiating framework

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said earlier that the ASEAN ministers were divided over a USA proposal to remove North Korea from the ASEAN Regional Forum, a 27-member grouping that includes the North, along with its most bitter adversaries — South Korea, the United States and Japan.

The ministers urged ASEAN member states and China to fully and effectively implement the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC). The President assured Tillerson that the Philippines will remain a friend and ally of the US.

The ministers also called for a proposed code of conduct in the South China Sea, to be negotiated by China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to be "legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with worldwide law".

The code will be "effective", rather than legally binding.

The communiqué only noted concerns raised by some foreign ministers on land reclamations and other activities in the South China Sea, which according to them had "eroded trust and confidence".

China claims most parts of the strategic waterway, where trillion dollars' worth of ship-borne goods pass through annually. Last month, the guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem came within 12 miles of Triton Island in the Paracel archipelago, which is claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.

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"If there is no major disruption from outside parties, with that as the precondition, then we will consider during the November leaders' meeting, we will jointly announce the official start of the code of conduct consultation", Wang said.

Bolivar clarified that the Philippines preferred to have a binding code, contrary to some reports that the summit's host country was teaming up with Cambodia on the issue and siding with China.

The DOC is a document containing a list of principles of self-restraint and non-militarization in the disputed waters, to prevent escalation of tensions and ensure stability in the area.

"We do not see any dissonance with what they said and what ASEAN said last night", Bolivar said referring to the regional bloc's joint communique that decried militarization in the South China Sea, but didn't mention the approved framework as legally binding.

Asean ministers also emphasized the need to pursue the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with worldwide law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or Unclos.

The contending states should clarify their claims peacefully in accordance with a 1982 maritime treaty and global law, according to the three, who met on the sidelines of annual meetings of Asia-Pacific foreign ministers in Manila, including those from China and Russian Federation.

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In a joint statement after their foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the gathering, the three countries criticised ongoing "land reclamation, construction of outposts, militarisation of disputed features" and said any code of conduct must be "legally binding, meaningful and effective".

The arbitral tribunal ruling, which was released in July 12 past year, favored the Philippines' claim over disputed islands in the South China Sea.

2013, which it won past year.

"The President has stated on many occasions that the Philippines will respect the arbitral tribunal and will raise it with relevant sides at the proper time".

Beijing has dramatically expanded its presence in recent years by building artificial islands and suspected military facilities.

In their statement Monday, the three foreign ministers said they would "continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever worldwide law allows".

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