South-east Asia calls for talks with China on sea dispute
Published on Nov 18, 2012 8:11 PM
PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - South-east Asian nations displayed a rare show of unity on Sunday against China's sweeping maritime claims, calling for the first formal talks with Beijing over a sea dispute that has raised tensions and exposed deep divisions in the region.
As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in Cambodia for meetings with South-east Asian leaders, the 10-member Asean appeared determined to avoid a repeat of an embarrassing breakdown of talks in July over competing claims in the mineral-rich South China Sea, its biggest security challenge.
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen will tell Mr Wen that Asean wants to begin talks on a binding Code of Conduct (CoC), aimed at reducing the chance of naval flashpoints, as soon as possible, Asean Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan told reporters.
"Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will be discussing with the PM of China tonight and delivering this consensus on the Asean side," Mr Surin said.
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