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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs            19  July 2011

Asean should speed up sea dispute talks

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Asean and China should speed up talks for a code of conduct to govern actions in the fraught South China Sea, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Tuesday.

A resolution of the dispute will send a "strong signal" to the world that the situation in the resource-rich region, seen by analysts as a potential flashpoint, is predictable and would contribute to regional stability, he said.

"We need to finalise those long overdue guidelines because we need to get moving to the next phase," Yudhoyono said in a keynote speech to Association of Southeast Asian (Asean) foreign ministers meeting on the island of Bali.

"The more we are able to do this, the better we can manage the situation in the South China Sea. I am sure that soon we will be able to commence discussion on a regional code of conduct in the South China Sea."

The Indonesian leader noted that it took ASEAN and China 10 years to agree on a declaration for a code of conduct, and they have been discussing the guidelines to implement the code for another nine years without agreement.

"Things do not necessarily have to be this slow," said Yudhoyono, setting the tone for five days of meetings culminating Saturday in the ASEAN Regional Forum security dialogue including China, Japan and the United States.

"We need to send a strong signal to the world that the future of the South China Sea is a predictable, manageable and optimistic one," he said.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to parts of the South China Sea including the Spratly islands.

The area is believed to be rich in oil and gas and is a crucial route for global shipping trade. The United States has defense pacts with Taiwan and the Philippines and claims a "national interest" in the free movement of shipping.


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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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