Kerry urges talks to ease China Sea

Moving to head off yet another international crisis, US secretary of state John Kerry on Sunday urged China and its smaller neighbors to peacefully resolve mounting tensions over maritime disputes in Asian waters. 

Speaking to the foreign ministers of China and the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Kerry said it’s not enough to simply continue working on a long-delayed binding code of conduct for the South China Sea where many have competing claims to territory. 

‘While we all share the hope that Asean and China will accelerate negotiations on a meaningful code of conduct, we think the urgency of developments means that it is not enough simply to wait for that solution to arrive,’ Kerry said. ‘Obvious dangers arise during waiting time. The claimants need to take steps now to lower the temperature.’ 

Kerry said he was concerned the lack of clarity regarding South China Sea claims has created uncertainty. 

‘And this uncertainty limits the prospect for a mutually agreeable resolution or equitable joint development arrangements. But let me be clear: We believe the obligation to clarify claims in keeping with international law applies to all claimants, not just China,’ he said. 

On Saturday, the Philippines, a US treaty ally, offered an initiative that incorporated the American concept of a voluntary end to tension-producing activities. The US is calling for a freeze in actions that change the status quo, such as seizing unoccupied islands and land reclamation. 


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