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China Wants Closer Defense Ties With SE Asia

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Nanning, China (AFP) Oct 31, 2006
China said Monday it wanted to expand military ties with Southeast Asia as it pledged to continue efforts to hammer out a code of conduct for handling territorial disputes in the South China Sea. At a one-day summit with leaders from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for greater cooperation between China and ASEAN on defense issues.

"We should expand military dialogue and exchanges... promote joint development of the South China Sea," Wen said in a speech to the summit.

China and the ASEAN nations signed a non-binding 2002 treaty pledging peaceful conduct in the South China Sea aimed at preventing war over the disputed Spratly Islands.

But little progress has since been made on a specific code of conduct.

The islands, claimed as a whole or in part by six countries, have long been a flashpoint, mainly between China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Officials from ASEAN countries said before the summit that participants were expected to hold talks on a more specific code of conduct.

Wen also said nuclear-armed China was ready to sign on to an 11-year-old treaty declaring Southeast Asia "nuclear-free."

"China supports the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Southeast Asia and is ready to sign the protocol to the treaty on the Southeast Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone at an early date," Wen said.

ASEAN in 1995 signed their agreement committing Southeast Asia to remaining nuclear weapons free and has been trying to get China to sign as well.

Wen also called for stepped-up cooperation on counter-terrorism as well as maritime and other security issues.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Nadi (AFP) Fiji, Oct 25, 2006
The US and China "have never been closer" in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test earlier this month, US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said Wednesday. Hill, who has responsibility for East Asia and the Pacific, has been travelling recently with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in East Asia to try to ensure a united front on the application of UN sanctions against North Korea after its nuclear test on October 9.

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