East Asia Summit leaders stress importance of maintaining peace, stability in South China Sea

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MANILA, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) — Leaders from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its dialogue countries have stressed the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security in the South China Sea, said the chairman’s statement of the East Asia Summit (EAS) released here Tuesday.

The Philippines, the chair of the 12th EAS, released the statement a week after EAS leaders meeting in Manila on Nov. 14.

EAS is an annual meeting of the leaders from the 10 ASEAN members and their eight dialogue partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South KoreaRussia and the United States.

In the chairman’s statement, EAS leaders took the adoption of the framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea early this year as a “positive momentum” and welcomed the announcement by China and ASEAN countries that they would start consultations on the text of the COC in the South China Sea and the subsequent convening of the 23rd ASEAN-China Joint Working Group Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in early 2018.

The leaders reaffirmed “the importance of the peaceful resolution of disputes and the maintenance of peace, stability and security in the South China Sea.”

“We stressed the importance for the parties concerned to resolve their disputes by peaceful means,” the statement read.

Robespierre Bolivar, acting spokesperson of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that the delay in the release of the EAS chairman’s statement was caused by late submissions of “additional comments” by EAS participating countries.

“We want the chairman’s statement to reflect as accurately as possible the discussions at the summit,” Bolivar said.

At the summit this year, the EAS leaders discussed the “complex challenges” confronting the region as they were charting the future direction of the EAS.

Established in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The 31st ASEAN summit and related summits, including the EAS, were held here a week ago under the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

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