ASEAN can not resolve sea disputes: Secretary General


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the 20th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three (APT) Commemorative Summit on the sideline of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Manila on November 14, 2017.

Xinhua news agency reported that the two sides agreed to appropriately manage maritime issues, steadily advance all forms of maritime cooperation and strive to uphold peace and stability in the South China Sea.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano did not directly answer when asked about Trump's offer.

Washington is not among the claimants to the waterway, among the busiest in the world, but it has declared it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of the disputes.

"While the situation is calmer now, we can not take the current progress for granted", said the draft ASEAN Common Statement on ASEAN-China Dialogue Relations for the 20th ASEAN-China Summit. Several nations back an active American military presence in the region to serve as a counterweight to China's increasingly assertive actions, including the construction of seven man-made islands equipped with military installations.

Malaysia, Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines all claim some or all of the South China Sea and its myriad shoals, reefs and islands.

In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Asean maintained its stance to pursue "peaceful" negotiations with China to resolve sea disputes.

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The agreement came at a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong in Hanoi.

U.S. President Donald Trump, author of the bestseller "Art of the Deal", offered his assistance in the dispute over China's sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

China has dismissed that ruling as a "sham" and did not participate in the arbitration case that the Philippines filed during the administration of Duterte's predecessor.

"The visit marks a new step forward in Vietnam-China relations", he said.

"If you go to the negotiating table and you start with the statement 'that I am here to claim validity of our ownership, ' you're wasting your time".

On Sunday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte suggested that, despite their differences, the leaders should not discuss the South China Sea.

Roque said the regional bloc was also optimistic that China would cooperate in coming up with a legally-binding code of conduct in the South China Sea, which the Philippines prefer to call the West Philippine Sea.