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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             22  July 2011

Asean foreign ministers continue talks

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Southeast Asian foreign ministers held talks with their counterparts from China,

Japan and South Korea here on Thursday, ahead of a security summit involving the United States.

North Korea’s nuclear program, climate change and global food shortages were among the issues discussed during what host Indonesia described as upbeat discussions despite tensions among some participants over a territorial spat in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

Meanwhile, Manila defended the visit of four Filipino lawmakers to Kalayaan Island in the Spratlys in the South China Sea, saying that the legislators did not violate any international law because the territory they visited belongs to the Philippines.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines defended the trip to Kalayaan.

Its spokeman, Commodore Juan Miguel Rodriguez, also on Thursday said that the lawmakers violated no law since the island is a municipality of Palawan province.

“Just now was a very positive meeting,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said after emerging from the talks between the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) members and their three big neighbors.

“During the course of our meeting... we took stock of the present state of Asean+3 collaboration on financial and economic issues, which has been extremely positive,” he added.

Natalegawa said that one of the top issues discussed was North Korea’s nuclear program, and that there was support for restarting stalled six-nation diplomatic efforts aimed at getting the isolated country to give up its atomic ambitions in return for diplomatic and economic benefits “Of course, the North Korean issue was discussed in good length and it is one of the common concerns not only for countries in the Northeast Asia but also Southeast Asia,” the Indonesian official said.

“We wish very much to see the six-party talks revived,” Natalegawa added.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said that other issues on the agenda included food and energy security, environmental issues and cooperation on disasters.

But he added that one of the most contentious issues—competing claims between China and some Asean nations to the South China Sea—was not mentioned.

This came after Asean and China agreed on Wednesday to guidelines on a potential code of conduct governing activities in the resource-rich and strategically important water


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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