G-20 Summit: US, Japan, Australia urge peaceful resolution of maritime disputes

(From left) US President Barack Obama, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G-20 Summit. -- PHOTO: AFP
(From left) US President Barack Obama, Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the G-20 Summit. -- PHOTO: AFP

BRISBANE (AFP) - US, Australian and Japanese leaders on Sunday called for peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes, a day after US President Barack Obama warned of the dangers of outright conflict in Asia as China contests disputed territory.

In a joint statement, Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged "freedom of navigation and over-flight, and the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes in accordance with international law".

The trio said they were committed to deepening their already strong security cooperation in the Asia-Pacific, which comes amid China’s increasingly assertive expansion in the region.Beijing is locked in dispute with four South-east Asian countries over outcrops in the South China Sea, and with Japan over another set of islets.The three leaders, meeting in Brisbane on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in the Australian city, also reaffirmed the “value of comprehensive US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region”.“They noted that this partnership rests on the unshakable foundation of shared interests and values, including a commitment to democracy and open economies, the rule of law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” they said in the statement.

Obama, in a speech in Brisbane on Saturday, warned of the dangers of outright conflict in Asia but vowed that Washington would remain anchored in the region.He said while there had been stunning economic progress in Asia since World War II, there were also genuine dangers, saying there were “disputes over territory – remote islands and rocky shoals – that threaten to spiral into confrontation”.He stressed that China must “adhere to the same rules as other nations, whether in trade or on the seas”.On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Abe said he wanted deeper defence ties with the United States and Australia to ensure peace and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.