North Korea says no negotiations over its nukes

US calls for legally binding code of conduct in South China Sea

He said those conditions include a "stable situation" in the South China Sea and non-interference by "outside parties", an apparent reference to the United States.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also called on Beijing to abide by a 2016 global tribunal ruling that invalidated its sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

The foreign ministers of 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations stressed "the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint" for all activities in the South China Sea by all countries, according to a statement released on Sunday, which summed up their meeting the day before.

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.

China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, and has heavily militarized some islands in the region and expanded other territories with major land reclamation work, turning sandbars into islands and equipping them with airfields, ports and weapons systems.

Diplomats say they believe that Beijing has used its influence over countries who have chaired ASEAN in the past to dilute the group's stand on the South China Sea row, potentially one of the most volatile disputes in Asia.

Then, in a surprise move late Sunday, they indirectly criticized Beijing's land reclamation and military fortifications in the disputed waters.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea, including waters approaching the coasts of ASEAN members Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

The Summit was held as the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously for fresh sanctions following the testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

China had always been perceived as delaying negotiations with the association for the maritime code to allow it to launch and complete its land reclamations in the South China Sea without any such regulatory restrictions. Many of the ASEAN countries, including the Philippines, are specially concerned about this issue.

The DOC refers to the Declaration of Conduct by the Parties in the South China Sea, signed in 2002 by the foreign ministers of Asean and China.

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.

The previous administration had brought the dispute to the Arbitral Tribunal but China rejected the court's authority and refused to participate in the hearings. "Not this kind of episodic back and forth that we've seen".

The Philippines International Convention Centre is the venue for meetings of foreign ministers of ASEAN and partner countries.

But ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun earlier said nuclear action or sanctions taken by Washington would lead to an "unimaginable sea of fire" engulfing the US.



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