Asean consensus on South China Sea, sanctions on North Korea holding, says US Deputy Secretary of State

US President Donald Trump addressing the UN General Assembly on Sept 25, 2018.
US President Donald Trump addressing the UN General Assembly on Sept 25, 2018.PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK - The United States is fully committed to the US-Asean strategic partnership,  US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said after co-chairing a US-Asean ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“We reaffirmed the US-Asean strategic partnership and discussed US commitment to a free and open Indo Pacific region with Asean at its centre in which independent nations with diverse cultures and aspirations can prosper side by side in freedom and peace,” Mr Sullivan told journalists.

“During our meeting I highlighted the United States’ commitment to upholding international law including freedom of navigation in the South China Sea,” he added.

“On the South China Sea, there was unanimity; what everyone including the United States is looking for is resolution of disputed claims, not unilaterally but we want international law to be followed and for there to be a peaceful process,” he said.

Mr Sullivan met bilaterally as well with a number of Asean countries, he said. “I would say there is consensus, a commitment by Asean and the United States to the rule of law and not unilateral actions by one country to develop features in the South China Sea and even worse to militarise them.”

Continued implementation of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on North Korea was also discussed, Mr Sullivan said. Asean countries remain committed to implementing the resolutions.

“I did not hear from Asean any support for any exceptions to the UNSC resolutions,” Mr Sullivan said.

Asked about the timeline for denuclearisation of North Korea, Mr Sullivan acknowledged that “denuclearisation will be a substantial challenge.”