Nov 20, 2012

Cambodia - Draft ASEAN chairman's statement contains "inaccuracies"

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PHNOM PENH: Several ASEAN member countries have asked Cambodia to correct what they described as inaccuracies in the draft statement for the conclusion of the grouping's summit in Phnom Penh.

They wanted changes in certain paragraphs of the chairman's draft statement.

A spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the draft statement had contained some inaccuracies that had to be corrected, especially when the statement had quoted ASEAN leaders on the discussions on the South China Sea.

It is understood that the statement had made reference to the South China Sea issue and a call by the Cambodian Chair not to "ïnternationalise" the issue.

The MFA spokesman added that Singapore, along with the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam had explained their positions to the chairman.

It is understood that if the inaccuracies are not corrected, there's a likelihood that individual countries could possibly disassociate themselves from the chairman's statement.

It's also understood that the Cambodian Chair is acting on the feedback from the member countries.

Cambodia is hosting the regional grouping's summit and the East Asia Summit, attended by leaders from the US as well as Asia Pacific powers such as China, Japan and South Korea.

In response to media queries, MFA said the South China Sea issue was not the only issue that member countries had clarified on. They have done so for other parts of the statement.

When asked about the reaction of the Philippines and a few other ASEAN member states to Cambodian Premier Hun Sen's call that the South China Sea issue should not be internationalised, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stressed that it is also about the freedom of navigation.

Mr Lee said: "All the user states have a legitimate interest in freedom of navigation which must not be compromised. But as far as the sovereignty claims (are concerned), those have to be resolved among the participants, the claimant states themselves. ASEAN's role in this is (that) ASEAN counsels moderation and restraint and we try to work towards a code of conduct as the next step.

"No country can say, "I give up what I have previously claimed and let the other country take it." So, to resolve the issue, I think we wait for a wiser generation to come. But to manage the problem and to prevent it from either causing friction or sparking off some unintended explosion or escalation, I think that is what we need to do."

- CNA/ir/de

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