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Japan, ASEAN Pledge Cooperation in Ensuring Freedom of Navigation

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right center, delivers his opening speech at the Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting on the sidelines of Japan-ASEAN Commemorative Summit in Tokyo, Dec. 14, 2013.
Leaders from Japan and 10 Southeast Asian countries have wrapped up a summit in Tokyo with a pledge to cooperate to ensure freedom of air and sea navigation.
A joint statement issued Saturday at the end of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations did not specifically mention China's recent declaration of a maritime air defense zone in the East China Sea.

But Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on China to rescind all measures that violate universal principles of freedom of overflight and aviation safety.
Earlier in the day, Japan pledged more than $19 billion in aid and loans to Southeast Asian nations over the next five years to boost relations in the area.
The assistance will focus on helping close the region's development gap and improve its security preparedness.
On Friday, Tokyo agreed to expand currency swaps and other arrangements with Indonesia and the Philippines to help stabilize Asian financial markets.
Japan has been seeking to bolster its ties in the region as China has become increasingly assertive in territorial disputes.