NUSA DUA, Indonesia - The United States on Friday welcomed a small sign of progress between China and Southeast Asia in the South China Sea dispute, easing the possibility of tension erupting between the two superpowers at Asia's biggest security conference.
China and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday approved guidelines on conduct in the energy-rich South China Sea after almost a decade of deadlock.
"We welcome this, it's an important first step," Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters on the sidelines of the regional forum on the Indonesian island of Bali.
"It has lowered tensions. It has improved atmospherics. But clearly it is just that, a first step."