Cambodian Foreign minister Hor Namhong yesterday said Asean members were trying to achieve a consensus on the divisive South China Sea issue after a meeting with Indonesian Foreign minister Marty Natalegawa.
Speaking at a news conference, Hor Namhong said the meeting was to “look for consensus among Asean” whose members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have competing territorial claims with China in the strategic waterway.
“We now agree on some principles on the South China Sea issue. I will send these principles in order to be confirmed by Asean foreign ministers,” Hor Namhong said.
“I will send letters to them shortly and I hope that (by today), we will be able to get the confirmation from the Asean foreign ministers. When they agree, I will inform the media about those principles,” the minister added.
Natalegawa told the news conference that Indonesia had been carrying out “intensive shuttle diplomacy” over the past 36 hours to restore Asean unity.
His efforts follow the failure of the group to issue its customary joint statement after its annual meeting of foreign ministers in Phnom Penh last week.
“Asean continues and remains to be united to be cohesive in all of the issues concerned, especially the issue of the South China Sea,” he said.
“I just now reported to the chair of Asean the preliminary results of the consultations I have had in Manila, Hanoi and Cambodia as well as many telephone calls with Asean foreign ministers.
“All of them are of one view, namely there are two basic principles on which Asean has has always rallied around on the issue of South China Sea.
“Those principles have been identified. And I have reported to the Asean chair already.
“If the consensuses are confirmed in the next few hours, then perhaps, the chair will be able in a position to formally announce these basic positions,” Natalegawa said.