Issues before ASEAN ministers meeting in Manila

UN Security Council members vote on a US-drafted resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations Headquarters in New York

No South China Sea trade-off for economic gains, Philippines says

Wang Yi added that China also supported the South's initiatives.

In what two diplomats involved said was another victory for Beijing on Sunday, ASEAN members declined to say in their joint statement that the hoped-for code of conduct with China be "legally binding". The idea is to draw up an outline of the rules and responsibilities for the countries to prevent clashes from erupting in the contested waters.

Wang played down mention of the issues, including land reclamation, that critics have used to refer to China's massive island constructions in the South China Sea.

Bolivar said the Philippines prefers a legally binding code of conduct but the consensus in ASEAN is that at the very least, the code that is still to be negotiated should be substantive and effective.

The top US diplomat says the United States has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight a monthslong siege of a southern city by pro-Islamic State group militants.

Susan Thornton is the top US diplomat for Asia. The ministers also urged ASEAN member states to maximize pressure on North Korea.

"I told him that [the two offers for talks] are an urgent matter that should be carried out immediately with any political agenda put aside and asked him to proactively react", she was quoted as saying. Differing expectations between Beijing and ASEAN of what the code of conduct should look like also likely mean the negotiations will be anything but straightforward. The statement posted on the official website of the Chinese Embassy in Manila, omitted any reference to China's man-made installations on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

During their meeting, Tillerson, Kono and Bishop stressed the need to protect freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in marine and mineral resources.

China claims almost all of the sea, through which Dollars 5 trillion in annual shipping trade passes and which is believed to sit atop vast oil and gas deposits.

These tensions divide ASEAN.

ASEAN may express "serious concern" and "emphasize the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in all activities", according to a draft communiqué being prepared for the foreign ministers.

China has reclaimed some of the disputed features in the South China Sea, including those ruled by an global arbitration court to be part of the Philippines' exclusive economic zone, and fortified them with military structures and hardware.

By readjusting its approach and attitude, and sincerely joining hands with the other ASEAN members to consolidate the positive progress made in ASEAN-China ties over the past year, Vietnam can help raise China-ASEAN relations to a new level. China sent ships to intercept the destroyer.

Thornton says the USA wants to ensure that with the new sanctions, there's "not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen".

His words were contained in a speech in Beijing marking the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article.

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