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U.S. gives tacit backing to Philippines in China sea dispute

By Stuart Grudgings and Lesley Wroughton BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gave tacit backing to the Philippines' stance in a tense maritime dispute with China on Thursday, saying that all countries had a right to seek arbitration to resolve competing territorial claims. The Philippines, a U.S. ally, has angered China by launching an arbitration case with the United Nations to challenge the legal validity of Beijing's sweeping claims over the resource-rich South China Sea.

Japan asks China, S. Korea, ASEAN to relax food import restrictions

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday asked the leaders of China, South Korea and ASEAN to relax or eliminate import restrictions on Japanese produce, touting its safety more than two years after the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. As participants confirmed cooperation in finance and food security at the "ASEAN-plus-three" summit, Abe also welcomed the start of an emergency rice reserve program involving the participating countries and said Japan intends to extend cooperation in the area.

Park heads to Indonesia after attending ASEAN summits in Brunei

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye left for Indonesia on Thursday after attending a series of multilateral and bilateral summits aimed at bolstering cooperation with Southeast Asia, an increasingly important region of vibrant economies with high growth potential. The highlight of the three-day trip was Wednesday's summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) where Park and the 10 ASEAN leaders agreed to establish a security dialogue and upgrade a free trade agreement between the two sides.

Leaders focus on S. China Sea at E. Asia Summit

Leaders of 18 Asia and Pacific countries began a summit Thursday in Brunei with territorial disputes between China and some Association of Southeast Asian Nations members over the South China Sea likely to draw leaders' attention. ASEAN countries and the United States are expected to call for advancing talks between the 10-member ASEAN and China on a legally binding code of conduct aimed at reducing territorial and maritime conflicts in the South China Sea, all or parts of which is claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

ASEAN vows to promote talks with China on S. China Sea code of conduct

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Wednesday vowed to advance negotiations with China on a legally binding code of conduct aimed at reducing territorial and maritime conflicts in the South China Sea, a potential flashpoint that could destabilize the region.

Kerry to push China, SE Asia to discuss sea dispute

By Lesley Wroughton and Manuel Mogato BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will press Southeast Asian leaders and China to discuss the South China Sea dispute at an Asian summit, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, despite Beijing's reluctance to address the issue in public forums. Kerry arrived in Brunei on Wednesday for an annual East Asia Summit (EAS) and talks with leaders of Southeast Asian nations and, separately, met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the summit.

S. Korea, ASEAN agree to establish security dialogue

By Chang Jae-soon BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei, Oct. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and the 10-member grouping of Southeast Asian countries agreed Wednesday to establish a security dialogue where they can talk about the North Korean nuclear standoff and other regional issues, officials said. South Korean President Park Geun-hye proposed such a dialogue channel during an annual summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Brunei, and the ASEAN leaders welcomed it, Seoul's Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Kyung-soo said.

Putin is latest Asia summit no-show to raise eyebrows

After the US president's no-show at a pair of Asia-Pacific summits, eyebrows are being raised over Russian leader Vladimir Putin's decision to also skip one of the gatherings. Despite coming to the region for an economic meeting in Indonesia earlier this week, Putin has passed on a subsequent East Asia summit in the sultanate of Brunei set for Friday. It marks the third straight year that Moscow has sent a stand-in to a gathering that Russia had lobbied hard to join in 2011, raising questions over Moscow's level of commitment to the East Asia bloc.

China extends hand to wary SE Asia at summit

China offered an olive branch Wednesday to Southeast Asian nations wary of its territorial claims, displaying its growing influence at another summit notable for US President Barack Obama's absence. Premier Li Keqiang called for peace in the South China Sea and expanded Chinese trade with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as he met the bloc's leaders in the oil-flush sultanate of Brunei. "A peaceful South China Sea is a blessing for all. We need to work together to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation," Li said.

China extends olive branch to wary SE Asia at summit

China offered an olive branch Wednesday to Southeast Asian nations wary of Beijing's territorial claims, keeping its growing clout on display at yet another summit notable by US President Barack Obama's absence. Premier Li Keqiang called for a South China Sea of "peace and friendship", during a meeting with the heads of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the oil-flush sultanate of Brunei. "A peaceful South China Sea is a blessing for all. We need to work together to make the South China Sea a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation," Li said.
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