Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have expressed concern over escalating tensions in the South China Sea, where China has been involved in maritime disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines.
Burmese Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin says ASEAN foreign ministers issued a joint statement calling for restraint during a meeting on Saturday.
"We ask all the parties to resolve their issues in a very peaceful manner," he said.
The foreign ministers' meeting in the Burmese capital, Naypyidaw, took place on the eve of the ASEAN summit.
After the session, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said the ASEAN regional bloc could be instrumental in resolving the territorial disputes.
"I think everybody is satisfied in a way that ASEAN can play a central role and adopted a collective position on this issue but we are not happy with the incidents outside," Vinh said.
Earlier this week, Manila arrested 11 Chinese fishermen for poaching in a disputed area near the Half Moon Shoal in the Spratly Islands. Philippines police dismissed China's demands to release the men.
Meanwhile, Chinese and Vietnamese ships collided this week in a dispute over Beijing's placement of an oil rig in disputed waters near the Paracel Islands.