Obama, Asean leaders reaffirm commitment to resolve sea disputes
RANCHO MIRAGE, California—US President Barack Obama and the 10 leaders of Southeast Asian nations and their representatives wrapped up the historic summit here, reaffirming their commitment to regional order and international laws particularly in resolving disputes in the South China Sea.
The sea disputes took center stage at the summit with Obama and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders taking up measures on lowering tensions in the region.
The first ever summit held on the American soil came timely following the establishment of the Asean community, the regional economic integration, early this year.
READ: Asean creates unified economic community
The US and the regional bloc have also recently elevated their relationship to a strategic partnership, further deepening their ties.
In the joint statement, the leaders listed 17 key principles that will guide their cooperation forward.
Among these is their “shared commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law and the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
They also cited their commitment “to maintain peace, security and stability in the region, ensuring maritime security and safety, including the rights of freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas, and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce as described in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
The Asean nations and the US, while not mentioning China, called for the “non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities.”
The US and some members of the Asean including Philippines, which has a pending arbitration case invoking UNCLOS against China over its sweeping claims over the entire 3.5-million square kilometer South China Sea, have opposed China’s militarization of the sea. RAM
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