US, Japan call for stop to land reclamations in South China Sea

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"The ministers further urged ASEAN member states and China to ensure that the code of conduct be finalized in a timely manner, and that it be legally binding, meaningful, effective, and consistent with worldwide law", the statement said.

The Foreign Minister of Japan Taro Kono and the United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson say they will urge countries to strictly implement new UN sanctions against North Korea.

The Philippines scored a major legal victory previous year, when an global tribunal in the Hague threw out most of China's territorial claims, but since the election of President Rodrigo Duterte, Manila has become less confrontational with Beijing.

The code of conduct would be aimed at avoiding accidents as the claimant countries fish, explore for oil and gas or develop some of the estimated 500 tiny islets.

The inclusion of the phrase "all other states" in the paragraph on the South China Sea issue refers at least partly to the United States, which has long criticised China's aggressive behaviour in the disputed waters and has been conducting military patrols to assert freedom of navigation and overflight.

Foreign ministers of ASEAN and China on Sunday adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power.

The communiqué, issued Sunday night also noted the concerns raised by some foreign ministers during the extensive discussions on land reclamations and activities in the West Philippines Sea (WPS), which eroded trust and confidence.

North Korea on Monday spurned overtures from South Korea and the United States, and instead lobbed a new inflammatory threat to retaliate against the United States over new U.N. sanctions punishing Pyongyang for its missile and nuclear tests. When it was issued a day later, the joint ministerial statement - surprisingly - mentioned land reclamation and militarization and, to Beijing's certain dismay, carried a vague reference to the arbitration ruling: "full respect for diplomatic and legal process". "Afterward we met with the Philippine foreign minister to exchange views on bilateral relations, especially regarding ASEAN". Rappler Manila reported the Foreign Minister saying the announcement would be made: "when the situation in the South China Sea is generally stable, and if there is no major disruption from outside parties".

During a session with the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) at the bloc's annual Regional Forum on Friday, the Philippines emphasised the need to continue to promote human rights without politicising the issue.

"Between them, the Government has allocated $34.5 million in funding over four years", Mr Brownlee says.

The operation was aimed at affirming the right to passage and challenging what the USA considers China's excessive territorial claims in the area. He says he won't give a concrete timeframe but that the USA will "know it when we see it".

North Korea rarely attends, or is even invited to, worldwide forums like the ASEAN meeting.

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