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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs             28  July 2011

Asean navies to cooperate more fully

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Southeast Asian naval chiefs pledged closer cooperation on Wednesday as they held their first formal talks amid regional concern over China's activities in the South China Sea.

Competing claims to the potentially oil-rich Paracel and Spratly island groups have caused rising tensions in recent months, with regional neighbours accusing China of behaving aggressively.

Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, commander of the Philippine navy, said the gathering in Hanoi was the first "formal meeting" of naval chiefs from the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) bloc.

He said the forum was held for the "purpose of enhancing collaboration, cooperation, among the ASEAN navies".

The disputed areas, which straddle vital commercial shipping lanes, are subject to a tangle of maritime claims by China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Malaysia's top sailor Admiral Abdul Aziz Jaafar urged China to "respect the sovereignty" of states in the region, in comments to reporters during the talks.

Asean foreign ministers last week voiced "serious concern" over recent incidents in the South China Sea.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the international community should weigh into dialogue between China and Southeast Asia to ensure disputes "don't get out of control".

After attending Asia's main security forum in Indonesia, Clinton said a deal on guidelines for future negotiations was a first step to a binding code of conduct, but condemned acts of "intimidation" in the area.

"The eyes of the world have turned to the maritime area in our region," said Pama during the one-day naval talks.

"A solid ASEAN is an integral part of the solution to the South China Sea," he said.


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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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