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ASEAN: Recent militarization in S. China Sea 'erodes trust, confidence'

ASEAN: Recent militarization in S. China Sea 'erodes trust, confidence'

The proposal on the smart cities network is scheduled to be approved by ASEAN leaders at the 32nd ASEAN Summit on April 28 and will be launched within the framework of the next ASEAN Summit hosted by Singapore in November.

The chairman's statement released after the meeting welcomed the historic summit between the 2 Koreas as well as the first US-North Korea summit that is being planned.

Prime Minister of host Singapore Lee Hsien Loong said ASEAN leaders had adopted documents in line with priorities of ASEAN this year towards enhancing the bloc's resilience and innovation.

"We emphasised the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states.that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea", the chair's statement said.

In addition to Singapore, the ASEAN members are Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and the Philippines.

The situation in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, where hundreds of thousands of minority Rohingya Muslims have fled for neighboring Bangladesh after a military crackdown, is one of the biggest challenges facing the group.

ASEAN is also working to devise a model extradition treaty and negotiating a code of conduct with China to ease tensions in the disputed South China Sea, one of the world's most volatile hotspots and one of its busiest waterways.

At the summit's opening ceremony, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said having marked its 50th anniversary a year ago, ASEAN needed "to adjust to a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape".

Addressing the summit of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that regional economic growth was under threat because the political mood in many countries had turned against free trade.

Lee said "the global strategic balance is shifting, and so is the regional balance", citing China and India's growing strength and influence. "This has opened up new opportunities for ASEAN member states as we expand our cooperation with them". "In particular, the recent trade tensions between the United States and China are worrying concerns", said Lee.

When the Vietnamese leader raised the South China Sea issue, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte told Phuc he is not "abandoning, ignoring, or setting aside" the landmark arbitral ruling that invalidated China's claims over most of South China Sea.

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