VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — Southeast Asia’s main grouping has opened a meeting of their foreign ministers, deeply divided on how to deal with China’s territorial expansion in the South China Sea.
Laos is hosting the gathering of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which traditionally ends with a joint statement. But the sticking point is whether to include a reference to the South China Sea. ASEAN’s cardinal principle is decisions by consensus, which means any country can veto a proposal. This time, it appears to be Cambodia, China’s close ally.
In welcoming remarks, Laotian Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith made no mention of the dispute.
In 2012, Cambodia also blocked a mention of the dispute, which ended with the ministers failing to issue a statement for the first time in the bloc’s history.