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ASEAN Unifies Voice for China Talks

Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers and Secretary General Le Luong Minh join hands as they pose for a group photograph during the ASEAN foreign ministers meeting in Hua Hin, Thailand, August 14, 2013.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers have agreed to "speak with one voice" during talks on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

In preparation for upcoming talks with China, the group's foreign ministers held a one-day retreat in the Thai resort town of Hua Hin Wednesday.

A Thai foreign ministry spokesman said the regional group wants to see an early conclusion to talks, which Beijing has resisted.

Earlier this month, China said it was in no rush to sign a proposed agreement on maritime rules with ASEAN. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said a lot more work on the Code of Conduct was needed.

China and ASEAN signed a non-binding Declaration of Conduct as a confidence-building measure in 2002. Only last month did Beijing signal a willingness to negotiate a legally binding Code of Conduct.

Four ASEAN nations, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei, have overlapping claims with China. Beijing has pushed for bilateral talks to resolve the disputes and has avoided direct multilateral talks on the issue.