Tillerson meets ASEAN ministers to seek support on North Korea

Adjust Comment Print

The region's top diplomats will likely be more focused on the Trump administration's trade policy and its dealings with China and what it means for USA policy toward the South China Sea, where several members of the bloc have territorial disputes with Beijing.

He said, without providing specifics, that "considerable common ground was identified" between the US and ASEAN on North Korea.

Murphy said the US would continue the Navy's "freedom of navigation" operations in the South China Sea, though he declined to say when that might occur. They want a sustained USA presence in the region - which Obama promised them as part of his "pivot" to Asia - to counter China's military assertiveness and growing economic dominance over its neighbors.

Diplomats say US pressure has caused some irritation in ASEAN, including Malaysia, which has maintained relations with Pyongyang in spite of the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's estranged half brother at Kuala Lumpur International airport in February.

"That's probably something we'll look at", Manalo told reporters.

Referring to the USA call to minimize relations with Pyongyang, Philippine acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said: "We haven't really discussed that among the ASEAN countries, so that's probably something we will look at". "The last thing we would like to see is to have a conflict break out due to some miscalculation", Manalo said.

Southeast Asia's top diplomats are clearly seeking better ties with Washington, amid uncertainty over the Trump administration's trade policy and its dealings with China.

More news: Curtis Samuel, among other rookies, signed by Panthers
More news: Lessons on sharing wealth and knowledge from Buffett's star stock pickers
More news: Rutherford, DeSantis vote for health care overhaul

This announcement came after the White House was under fire for inviting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to the U.S.

Balakrishnan, whose country signed the TPP, stressed the importance of U.S. -ASEAN business ties - annual trade of $100-billion supporting half a million U.S.jobs and $274-billion of U.S. investment. Broadly speaking, they want a sustained US presence in the region - which President Barack Obama promised them as part of his "pivot" to Asia - to counter China's military assertiveness and growing economic dominance over its neighbors.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said the South China Sea issue is neither a problem between China and ASEAN, nor between the US and ASEAN.

They took note of efforts between the 10-member ASEAN and China toward an early conclusion of a "meaningful" code of conduct in the South China Sea as part of efforts to defuse tensions over the sea, in which Beijing has overlapping claims with its smaller neighbors such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

Murphy said the USA remains committed to freedom of navigation and commerce in the South China Sea.

But since then, Trump has made clear he's counting on cooperation with Beijing to rein in North Korea's nuclear program, praising his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a move that could undercut the State Department's tougher message.

Comments