Kerry seeks to calm South China Sea tensions

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Kerry seeks to calm South China Sea tensions

Kerry seeks to calm South China Sea tensions

(Naypyitaw)- Already scrambling to confront multiple simultaneous international crises, the Obama administration stepped up efforts Saturday to avert another, as US Secretary of State John Kerry called on China and its smaller neighbours to take new steps to ease tensions over maritime disputes in Asian waters that many fear could spark conflict.
Amid new American military action in Iraq, fears of a Russian invasion of east Ukraine and the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, Kerry formally presented a proposal under which China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that have competing claims to territory in the South China Sea would voluntarily halt provocative actions.
Recent activity by several claimants, particularly China, in disputed areas has heightened concerns about confrontation, which would destabilize the Asia-Pacific, interfere with international maritime commerce and roil the global economy.
“The United States and ASEAN have a common responsibility to ensure the maritime safety of critical global sea lanes and ports,” Kerry told ASEAN foreign ministers, including those from claimant states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, on the sidelines of an annual regional security forum.
“We need to work together to manage tensions in the South China Sea and manage them peacefully and also to manage them on a basis of international law,” he said.

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