Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Trump offers to mediate in protracted South China Sea feud

Trump offers to mediate in protracted South China Sea feud

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreed to start talks on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday evening, November 13.

Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said his country wanted to end disputes in the South China Sea through peaceful means.

China claims almost all of the sea, even approaching the coasts of its neighbours. "I am a very good mediator", Trump said on his own state visit to Hanoi at the tail end of his marathon tour of Asia.

He also said that China was helping to resolve tensions over North Korea and added he hoped Russian Federation would do the same.

Washington is not among the claimants to the waterway, among the busiest in the world, but it has declared it has a national interest in ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of the disputes.

The Philippines, the head of Asean's rotational chairmanship, said member states of the 10-nation bloc have to consult each other but thanked Mr Trump for his offer.

Trump's offer faces major obstacles.

The players were released on bail last Wednesday and have been staying at hotel in Hangzhou, awaiting a decision from authorities that could range from release to fines to years of detainment. The Philippines claims parts of the contested waters as the West Philippine Sea.

When he raised concerns over China's increasing military capability in the South China Sea, Mr Duterte said Mr Xi replied, "No, it's nothing".

"He acknowledged that war can not be promoted by anybody, (that) it would only mean destruction for all of us", Duterte said in a news conference after flying back to Manila.

"The South China Sea is better left untouched, nobody can afford to go to war". Duterte took steps to thaw frosty relations with China after he won the presidency a year ago. They did not return to Los Angeles with their UCLA teammates on Saturday and it is unclear how long they could be detained in China.

But the Philippines, after President Rodrigo Duterte took office a year ago, decided not to use the ruling to pressure China.

"I assure you that the relations between the two countries are strong, as always been, no problem for that".

Leaders of the ASEAN also will sign an accord aiming to protect migrant workers from the poverty-wracked region during a two-day summit that opened Monday in Manila, according to a draft of a post-summit communique seen by The Associated Press.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in the brief scuffle and the protesters left after burning a mock United States flag.

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