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Indonesia: S China Sea a ‘litmus test’ for ASEAN

September 19, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Indonesia’s foreign minister says Southeast Asia’s regional bloc faces a “litmus test” as it seeks to manage disputes in the South China Sea.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said Thursday there’s now a “good degree of common understanding” within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on broad goals for a proposed code of conduct.

In an address webcast by the Asia Society, Natalegawa said that until recently some nations viewed the code as a “magic wand” to address core disputes.

But he said Indonesia suggested more modest goals: to avoid security incidents, to promote confidence and on how to prevent escalating into full-blown conflict.

Natalegawa did not directly address the view of China which has been reluctant to negotiate with ASEAN over its conflicting territorial claims with several Southeast Asian nations.

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