U.S., Japan push for inclusion of South China Sea in defense forum statement


The United States and Japan are pushing to get concerns about the South China Sea included in a statement to be issued after regional defense talks in Malaysia despite Chinese objections to any mention of the disputed waterway, officials said.

A senior U.S. defense official said Beijing had made clear as early as February that it didn’t want the South China Sea discussed at the meeting between Southeast Asian defense ministers and their counterparts from across the Asia-Pacific in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

“We’ve been very clear along with many other like minded countries that South China Sea language should be included but there are members who feel differently,” said the U.S. defense official, adding China was the main obstacle.

A draft of the concluding statement being prepared by host Malaysia makes no mention of the South China Sea, said a separate source familiar with the discussions, focusing instead on terrorism and regional security cooperation.

Wednesday’s gathering brings together the 10 defense ministers from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with ministers from countries such as the United States, Japan, China, India and Australia.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/03/us-asean-malaysia-idUSKCN0SS07F20151103#DzyKUHlC3wVYy4GO.99