Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu discusses bilateral relations with Japan, Iran

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The investment would "strengthen maritime security, humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping capabilities, and enhance programs to counter transnational threats", Pompeo said at a press conference in Singapore on the sidelines of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.

Chinese counterpart Wang Yi said approval of the draft was "good news" and a "breakthrough".

Asean and Chinaon Thursday introduced a "single draft" that underpins all future negotiations for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, where China and a clutch of Southeast Asian nations have overlapping claims.

At a meeting of foreign ministers in Singapore on Thursday, Beijing and ASEAN announced they had agreed on the negotiating text for the code. He called the development a "milestone".

The annual foreign ministerial meeting is being hosted by Singapore, which holds the rotational chairmanship of Asean this year.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expressed hopes that negotiations would lead to a legally binding code of conduct that will uphold global laws and principles like freedom of navigation.

Asked if the negotiations will address whether or not the COC will be legally binding, the diplomat, who requested anonymity, said, "We're not there yet".

"We are pleased with our rapidly growing institutional relationship with ASEAN and its member states", he said.

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Washington has traditionally backed Beijing´s rival claimants in South China Sea disputes and has stepped up naval patrols in the waters, angering China.

Washington has also been stepping up pressure on Beijing on the military front following the Trump administration's decision to list China as one of America's greatest rivals in his national security strategy a year ago.

South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha (L) shakes hands with her Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Singapore talks on August 2, 2018.

As the new coordinator of ASEAN-China dialogue relations, the Philippines will make positive efforts to advance ASEAN-China cooperation, he said.

ASEAN members Cambodia and Laos, which are Chinese allies, have opposed the use of strong language against Beijing in the disputes. China has come under intense criticisms for the aggressive action but it has said it has the right to build on its territory and defend them at all costs.

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", said Ha.

China has already expressed its interest over a 60-40 joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea with the Philippines getting the lion's share.

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