ASEAN, China agree "milestone" text as basis for South China Sea talks

SINGAPORE, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Southeast Asian nations and China have reached a “milestone” in talks with China over a code of conduct in the South China Sea with a working text that will serve as a basis for future negotiations, Singapore’s foreign minister said on Friday.

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. For years they have been discussing an agreement to prevent escalation.

“I am pleased to announce yet another milestone in the COC (code of conduct) process,” Vivian Balakrishnan said at the start of a meeting of regional foreign ministers and China.

“AMS (ASEAN member states) and China have arrived at a single draft COC negotiating text, which will be a living document and the basis of future COC negotiations.”