Iran, ASEAN ink friendship, cooperation treaty

FM arrives in Singapore

FM arrives in Singapore

"As part of our commitment to advancing regional security in the Indo-Pacific, the United States is excited to announce almost US$300 million dollars of new funding to reinforce security cooperation throughout the entire region", he said.

Iran has signed a friendship treaty with the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in a move which could lead to broader economic cooperation between the Islamic Republic and the organization's member states.

The ministers "were encouraged by the progress of the substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of an effective code of conduct in the South China Sea on a mutually agreed timeline", they said in a joint statement.

But there was little sign of serious resistance from other countries, signalling how opposition to China's aggressive expansion in the resource-rich waters has ebbed in recent years in Southeast Asia.

The 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting was officially opened on Thursday with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressing the importance of supporting ASEAN as a multilateral system amid growing nationalism and protectionism.

It is Saifudddin's first participation at an Asean meeting since becoming foreign minister on July 2.

The agreement is the first step in solving various territorial disputes in South China Sea.

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A senior ASEAN diplomat involved in the talks said negotiations on the regional code could start in Cambodia as early as this month.

A number of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have overlapping claims to islands in the sea, one of the world's busiest waterways.

US military ships and jets patrol the waters, a presence that Washington maintains is created to promote freedom of navigation and overflight.

Facing the uncertainty and instability in the global situation, timely enhancing strategic communication and cooperation between China and European Union, two forces for stabilization, and firmly support multilateralism as well as worldwide rules are not only in the line of the interests of the two sides, but also conducive to maintaining world peace and stability.

By proposing joint military exercises, China is trying to send a "subtle message to the world that ASEAN and China could work together and things are progressing well, hence there is no need for external involvement in the South China Sea issue", Ha said.

SINGAPORE, Aug 3 ― Asean looks forward to working closely with the United States (US) to bring the partnership to a higher trajectory, says Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Vietnam has offered some of the stiffest resistance to China in the region, regularly complaining about Beijing's activities on contested islands and in disputed waters.

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