News / Asia

Cambodia Says ASEAN Ministers Agree to 'Key Elements' of Sea Code

ASEAN countries' Foreign Ministers at the opening of the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012
ASEAN countries' Foreign Ministers at the opening of the 45th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, July 9, 2012
Cambodia says Southeast Asian foreign ministers have moved closer to agreement on guidelines for preventing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

A Cambodian foreign ministry official said Monday top diplomats of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made progress in drafting a maritime Code of Conduct, or COC, on the first day of an annual forum in Phnom Penh.

"They met and they adopted the key elements of the COC only among the member states, and from now on they will have to start assessments with China," said the official.

The official did not elaborate on the key elements of the Code of Conduct.
x

Six governments claim all or part of the South China Sea, with its vast fishing grounds and potential oil and gas deposits. The claimants include Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Beijing is willing to discuss a Code of Conduct that builds mutual trust in the South China Sea when "conditions are ripe." But, the spokesman said such a document should not try to resolve maritime disputes between China and ASEAN as a whole. Beijing insists on negotiating with its neighbors bilaterally.

Regional tensions have risen recently, with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing China of aggressive behavior in the sea.

Last month, Vietnam protested China's decision to invite bids for South China Sea oil blocks. The Vietnamese National Assembly passed a law asserting that the areas are entirely within Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. China strongly criticized the law, saying it is illegal.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen opened the ASEAN forum by urging other members of the 10-nation bloc to transform a 2002 declaration on maritime disputes into a binding agreement.

"We should put emphasis on the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct, including the eventual conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea," he said.

Under the Declaration of Conduct signed in 2002, ASEAN and China called for free navigation in the South China Sea, settling disputes peacefully, and respecting international agreements, including the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. But, ASEAN has spent a decade trying to formalize the declaration into a code of conduct.

Kyoto University political scientist Pavin Chachavalpongpun said he does not expect this week's ASEAN forum to finalize an agreement.

"I think ASEAN still remains only a platform for talking, talking and talking, no action. I do not have a lot of hope, to be honest with you, on the upcoming ASEAN meetings," he said.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman gave a more upbeat assessment of progress after the first day of talks.

"I think we are coming to an agreement," he said. "It is a very fruitful discussion. It is not a deadlock. This is a discussion among all member countries, very smooth and every member state has rights to voice their opinion."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is due to join her ASEAN counterparts at the forum on Wednesday. Speaking on Sunday in Tokyo, she said the United States will urge Southeast Asian governments to settle territorial disputes diplomatically and avoid conflict.

"We want to see all parties with claims - whether they are land or maritime claims - pursue them in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention," she said.

The European Union and 161 countries have ratified the U.N. treaty that went into effect in 1994.  The pact governs how nations may use the world's oceans and the resources they contain. The United States is the only industrialized nation that has not signed the treaty.  

Irwin Loy, Chris Hannas and VOA Khmer Service's Kong Sothanarith contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid