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NEWS UPDATES 25 September 2010

US-Asean second summit

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US and Southeast Asian leaders on Friday sought to cement increasingly interrelated political, economic and security ties at their second full-scale summit, the first in the United States.

US President Barack Obama declared the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had the potential for true world leadership, pressing home his strategy of rebuilding US influence in the dynamic region.

Both sides agreed on the importance of "peaceful resolution of disputes" and "freedom of navigation" including in the South China Sea, a reference to tensions between several Asean members and Beijing over territorial claims.

China had warned the United States not to get involved in the row over the potentially resource-rich Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea which Beijing claims.

However, Asean members the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, plus non-member Taiwan have competing claims.

There was no mention in a US statement on the talks, nor a joint communique of a call made by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in July for multilateral talks on regional security rows - an idea China opposes.

Opening the talks, Obama made clear he saw Asia as a vital plank of his foreign policy.

Obama also confirmed he would attend the East Asia summit next year in Jakarta as he presses home a strategy of enhancing US influence in the dynamic region, which he believes has been neglected by recent American policy.

On the economic front, the two sides agreed to work together to expand a burgeoning trading relationship - two way ASEAN-US trade in goods reached 84 billion dollars in the first six months of this year, a rise of 28 percent over last year.

They also discussed counter-terrorism and efforts to halt narcotics trafficking, pledged to fight against nuclear proliferation and reaffirmed the need for peaceful solutions to the Iran and North Korea nuclear challenges.

The White House also said that Obama raised the issue of Myanmar at the talks, after Washington admitted it was disappointed with its efforts to use dialogue to promote democratic change in the military-ruled state.

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