Obama urges halt to artificial islands in South China Sea

    KUALA LUMPUR U.S. President Barack Obama said on Saturday that countries should stop building artificial islands and militarising their claims in the disputed South China Sea.

    “For the sake of regional stability the claimants should halt reclamation, construction and militarisation of disputed areas,” Obama told a meeting between the United States and leaders of the 10 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

    China insists it has undisputed sovereignty over most of the South China Sea, a claim that overlaps with four ASEAN countries.

    China has been transforming reefs in the Spratly archipelago into artificial islands and has built airfields and other facililties on them. This has caused ripples of alarm in much of East Asia about China’s intentions and freedom of navigation in a waterway through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes annually.

    Obama said he commended ASEAN for working to create a code of conduct for the South China Sea “including the peaceful resolution of disputes, freedom of navigation and freedom of overflight.”

    Earlier this month, U.S. B-52 bombers flew near China’s artificial islands, signaling Washington’s determination to challenge Beijing over the disputed sea.

    China has said it does not want the South China Sea issue to be the focus of the meetings

    Article source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/21/us-asean-summit-idUSKCN0TA05S20151121

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