The Straits Times
Published on Nov 20, 2012

Obama urges restraint in tense Asian disputes


PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama urged Asian leaders to rein in tensions in the South China Sea and other disputed territory but stopped short of firmly backing allies Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in their disputes with China.

The comments by Mr Obama at a regional summit meeting illustrate how he intends to manage Sino-US ties that have become more fraught across a range of issues, including trade, commercial espionage and the territorial disputes between Beijing and Washington's Asian allies.

"President Obama's message is there needs to be a reduction of the tensions," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said after the East Asia Summit (EAS) in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.

Also present at the summit were leaders from China, Japan, the 10-member Asean, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.