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G-7 Ministers Issue Joint Statement on Maritime Disputes

France's Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, front left, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, front right, and their fellow G-7 foreign ministers are seen assembling for a working session in Hiroshima, wester

Foreign Ministers from the Group of Seven (G-7) expressed concern in a joint statement issued on Monday over tensions in the East and South China Sea, calling for “all states” to pursue a peaceful settlement of maritime disputes.

“We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions, and urge all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamation, including large scale ones, building outposts, as well as their use for military purposes,” said the G-7 Foreign Minister’s statement on maritime security.

While the statement did not explicitly name China, who is not a G-7 member, it contained a message viewed as critical of Beijing’s massive efforts to assert its claims over a string of islands in the South China Sea through new constructions.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the G-7 meeting should not "hype" the South China Sea issue. He said doing so will not help solving the problem, and it will affect regional stability, according to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The statement by foreign ministers from seven industrialized countries also urged “all states” to manage disputes “through applicable internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration.”

It came as the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to reach a decision soon on a case filed by Manila against Beijing.

In January 2013, the Philippines filed a complaint with the tribunal that handles arbitration, questioning what it called China’s “excessive claim” to practically the entire South China Sea. China voiced strong opposition about the case being taken to the international tribunal.

Foreign Ministers from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan met in Hiroshima to discuss issues — including regional and global security — paving the way next month for Group of Seven leaders’ summit.