29-Mar-12, 2:48 PM | Chichi Conde, InterAksyon.com
Top view of the Spratlys seen in this AFP file photo. Discussions on the 6-cornered maritime dispute and tensions in the Korean peninsula will be on ASEAN’s agenda at next week’s summit in Cambodia.
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III will raise the issue of territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) as well as North Korea’s planned rocket-powered satellite launch, which security officials believe is an attempt to develop a nuclear-armed missile, at next week’s summit meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Teresita Barsana on Thursday said Aquino will bring up the drafting of a binding Code of Conduct during the retreat of the Asean leaders in Phnom Penh on April 4.
“The Philippines is part of the drafting of the Code of Conduct and that is where we can incorporate the elements that we want in our proposal for the Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation. That (retreat) is where we can come in, propose, and push our advocacy on the West Philippine Sea and maritime cooperation,” Barsana said.
Barsana said Cambodia is hopeful that the Code of Conduct will finally be formulated within its chairmanship of Asean because the existing declaration was also coincidentally signed in Phnom Penh 10 years ago.
“They [Cambodians] are really very interested in seeing that something very positive comes out of it,” she added.
Aside from the Philippines, other countries that claim all or part of the West Philippine Sea are ASEAN members Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia; as well as China and Taiwan.
Barsana said Aquino will also bring up North Korea’s planned satellite launch during the retreat.
South Korean defense officials said Pyongyang had moved on Monday to a launch pad a long-range rocket it plans to test fire.
The news coincided with a two-day nuclear summit in Seoul, with leaders from the United States, Russia, China and dozens of other nations discussing how to deal with nuclear terrorism and how to secure the world’s nuclear material.
The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier called on North Korea not to proceed with the rocket launch, calling it “unacceptable.”
The launch is timed to coincide with mass celebrations marking the 100th birth anniversary of North Korea’s late founding president, Kim Il-sung.
Foreign Affairs chief Albert del Rosario urged Pyongyang to adhere to its pledge to observe a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear testing and uranium enrichment activities.