MANILA, Philippines — US President Barack Obama and Southeast Asian leaders will call for the peaceful settlement of South China Sea territorial disputes and urge claimants not to resort to force, according to a draft communique.
Washington upped the ante in July, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a regional security forum in Vietnam that the peaceful resolution of the disputes over the Spratly and Paracel groups of islands is an American national interest. Washington was concerned that the conflicts could hamper access to one of the world's busiest commercial sealanes.
Beijing angrily reacted by saying Washington was interfering in an Asian regional issue.
Obama will meet his counterparts from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Friday in a US summit where they are expected to discuss ways to bolster their alliance and discuss economic cooperation and security issues, including the South China Sea disputes.