Southeast Asian leaders kick ASEAN summit to discuss South China Sea, Rohingya Muslims

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Bangkok, June 22: Southeast Asian leadership kicked-off a two-day summit on Saturday in Bangkok, though it was not clear over what progress does the ten-nation group could make on disputes in the strategic South China Sea and extremity of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar due to the military crackdown.

The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), formed more than half a century ago, has historically faced challenges in the region because the decision is being made through consensus and is also unwilling to be involved in any issue regarding as internal to any member state.

Prayuth Chan-ocha, Thailand’s prime minister, will make his debut representing present chair Thai as a civilian leader, after March general election in which opposition political parties have said was figured to ensure Prayuth’s victory five years after ex-army chief captured power in a coup in 2014.

According to Reuters news reports, the officials are slated to discuss series of issues, one of which will be Code of Conduct (COC) for negotiation on the disputed South China Sea – one of the globe’s busiest waterways and possible flashpoint – as several ASEAN members have claimed it, including China.

Former Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa said, “It is encouraging to see that the ASEAN-China talks on the COC have continued,” adding, “However, there is real risk that developments on the ground – or more precisely at sea – are far outpacing the COC’s progress thereby possibly rendering it irrelevant.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte accepted a Chinese proposal to jointly probe alleged China’s fishing vessel abandoned some 22 Filipinos after it reportedly sank their boat in the disputed South China Sea, the president’s spokesperson on Saturday said.

Human Right groups have called on ASEAN leaders to reconsider supporting plans to repatriate Rohingya migrants who have fled Myanmar.




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