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07 August 2017, 01:13 | Kara Nash
"Our military of course, is very much tied to the USA, so that alliance remains strong and good", Romualdez said, adding that the U.S. remained the Philippines's strongest partner in fighting terrorism.
Like in a previous meeting in Laos, the draft framework contains only the elements and is not the final, legally binding document, but the conclusion of the framework could be considered a milestone among the competing countries that include (aside from the Philippines and China) Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Robespierre L. Bolivar, spokesman of the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs, said the foreign ministers "endorsed the framework of the code of conduct for eventual adoption at the ASEAN-China ministerial meeting on August 6".
"For the Trump administration, it's first about isolating and addressing the North Korea threat and later perhaps about re-balancing China and regaining a bigger place at the Asean table", the article quoted Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, as saying.
"I don't want to prejudge the result of that negotiation".
China has proposed a three-step vision to step up consultations on the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here Sunday after he and his counterparts from ASEAN nations approved the framework of the COC.
"The leaders of ASEAN and China are expected to announce the formal start of negotiations on the code at their summit in November", Bolivar told reporters.
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Wang said by end of August, the joint working group will meet and the parties will discuss the thinking principles for the next stage of the COC.
Vietnam on Friday night sought to insert tough language against China in an ASEAN statement that was scheduled to be released after the Southeast Asian ministers wrapped up their own talks on Saturday. One of the most important issues to be debated is the recent missile tests carried out by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK); that is why that country is participating in the meeting.
"It is not that easy, but it is the direction that we need to work together".
Wang also revealed the talks would push through if a precondition was followed. They urged the North to immediately and fully comply with its obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.
China claims almost all of the strategically vital sea, including waters approaching the coasts of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Thanks to our considerate efforts, the current situation in the South China Sea is showing positive momentum.
Responding to a question on bilateral issues, Wang said, "According to Article 4 of DOC, they should be addressed directly by parties involved in bilateral consultation".
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The ministry said Lavrov and Tillerson agreed to meet on the sidelines of the 24th ASEAN Regional Forum, which will be held from August 6-8 in the Philippine capital, Manila.
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