North Korea's foreign minister arrives in Singapore for ASEAN forum

05 August, 2018, 02:09 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • US Secretary of State Pompeo calls on Dr Mahathir

After a brief meeting with new Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur, Pompeo will fly to Singapore - a global trading hub that could be one of the hardest-hit in the region by a trade war - for a sit-down with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Friday.

China and ASEAN on Thursday hailed a "milestone" agreement on a single working text to begin what will likely be protracted negotiations toward a code of conduct for behavior in the disputed waters.

Asean ministers and their counterparts from the grouping's key partners, including China, Japan, South Korea and the United States, are in town for a marathon week of annual meetings, culminating in the East Asia Summit foreign ministers' meeting and Asean Regional Forum retreat on Saturday.

In fact, Asean and Beijing finalized a work document that will serve as a base for future negotiations on the COC, binding instrument that looks to prevent an escalade in tensions in those waters where there are still some territorial conflicts.

The draft however showed that Beijing wanted to stage military drills with ASEAN in the seas that excluded outside countries, a move analysts said was aimed at diminishing United States influence.

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The exercises come as more nations, many Asean members among them, are drawn into China's orbit as the United States finds it hard to promote its policy of engaging Asia while promising to put "America First".

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Malaysia, the first stop of an Asia tour expected to focus on promoting free trade and pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

The Asean meeting coincided with a bitter trade dispute between Washington and Beijing.

"We hope this momentum will continue with high-level visits", Çavuşoğlu tweeted after a bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono.

"Singapore and Asean stand ready to support our Laotian and Indonesian friends during this hard time", said Mr Lee.

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The ministers also agreed to "fully tap the opportunities afforded by new technologies and innovation arising from the digital revolution", though they stressed the need to stay responsive to emerging issues, such as non-traditional security threats and environmental challenges.

Facts will prove that China and ASEAN member states are capable of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea and reaching regional rules adhered to by all through negotiations, Wang said.

At their meeting, Wang also called for South Korea's efforts to "completely" resolve the issue of an advanced U.S. missile defense system deployed on the peninsula.

Yet, in an apparent reference to China, Pompeo said Washington will "oppose" any country that seeks dominance in the region.

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