ASEAN Foreign Ministers take part in a meeting of the 50th Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Manila, Philippines, Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017. (Erik De Castro/Pool Photo via AP)
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Southeast Asian nations were battling Sunday to find a compromise on how to deal with Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea, with Cambodia lobbying hard for Beijing, diplomats said.Foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) failed to release a joint statement as scheduled on Saturday evening, and tense follow-up negotiations the next morning could still not end the stand-off, two diplomats involved in the talks told AFP. ASEAN and China were due to approve a framework for a code of conduct in Manila on Sunday on how to deal with sea dispute.They say it comes 15 years after negotiations on the issue first began, and China has used that time to cement its claims with the artificial islands, while an actual code likely remained many years away.Diplomats said they were still hoping the joint ASEAN statement meant to be released on Saturday would be agreed on before all the other meetings hosted by the bloc ended on Tuesday.
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