China activities on South China Sea irks U.S., allies

S. Australia Japan call for legally binding code in South China Sea

Late Sunday, Kono held talks with Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, host of an ASEAN Regional Forum meeting on Monday.

The United States, Japan and Australia expressed "serious concerns" Monday over disputes concerning the South China Sea, while calling for a halt to land reclamation and military actions in the area that could increase tensions or cause permanent environmental damage.

Instead, they released a separate statement strongly urging the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to immediately stop intercontinental ballistic missile testing.

The PM highlighted the achievements that ASEAN has gained over the past a half century to become a strong and united community with rules-based operation and comprehensive and extensive connectivity across the fields, contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region.

The two leaders also welcomed the U.N. Security Council resolution that unanimously passed 15-0.

A more direct warning was aimed at the United States in a government statement published by the state-run KCNA news agency.

Besides the Philippines, fellow Asean members Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have South China Sea claims that overlap with those of China and Taiwan. The association's statement however implied that North Korea should remain in the regional forum, effectively rejecting Washington's call to isolate Pyongyang. China alone is responsible for 90 percent of North Korea's trade, and Russian Federation like China employs North Koreans as contract workers, whose salaries mostly go directly to their government.

Tillerson is offering his most specific outline to date of what preconditions the USA has for talks with Pyongyang.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says if the North stops testing missiles for an "extended period", the USA might deem North Korea ready to talk.

Its top diplomat said that while his country and the 10-nation ASEAN bloc "all fully recognized that the situation in the South China Sea is showing signs of changes and things are moving toward a positive direction", some countries outside the region "are not seeing the positive changes" and are holding onto a mindset that "still stays in the past".

The ruling is "final and legally binding on both parties", the ministers said.

The ASEAN ministers failed to release the joint statement as expected after meeting on Saturday due to their differences on the sea issue, with Vietnam pushing for tougher language and Cambodia lobbying hard for China. It is one of the very few multilateral events attended by North Korea's foreign minister nearly every year.

Before Tillerson's trip, the USA had said he had no plans to interact with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho. The two primary issues at the formal sessions are North Korea and the South China Sea.

In the printed version of the speech, Ri said that the entire USA mainland is within firing range of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is North Korea's official name.

Should those talks occur, they would be the first military-to-military dialogue in three years.

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein. Beijing frequently accuses the USA of meddling in what it says is an Asian dispute that should be resolved only by the countries involved. She says in the past, there's been a pattern in which China complies with sanctions after a North Korean provocation, but then slips back over time.

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