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Philippines Drops Reference to Arbitration Court’s South China Sea Decision in ASEAN Joint Statement

NavyShipsThe Philippines has agreed to drop the mention of a United Nations-backed court’s decision on a legal challenge with China over South China Sea in an Association of Southeast Asian Nations communique after Cambodia expressed objections to the judgment, Reuters reported Monday.

Michael Martina and Manuel Mogato write the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on July 12 in favor of the Philippines over maritime disputes in South China Sea.

Diplomats told Reuters Cambodia also supported China’s demand for bilateral talks to address such disputes amid the meeting of foreign ministers from 10 ASEAN member countries in Vientiane, Laos.

ASEAN and China issued a separate statement that seeks to express commitment to freedom of overflight and navigation over the disputed waters, according to the report.

U.S. State Secretary John Kerry arrived Monday in Laos to attend the ASEAN regional forum and East Asia summit and is expected to tackle maritime conflicts over South China Sea with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Martina and Mogato report.

David Shear, assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs, cited some of the Defense Department’s strategies to address disputes in South China Sea.

These approaches include the expansion of regional visibility through intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and defense cooperation with allies in Asia such as Japan, Australia and the Philippines.

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