AIPA Conference Unsure of Next Steps in South China Sea Dispute
A conference of the Asean Inter-Parliament Assembly is yet to decide whether or not to discuss a resolution on the South China Sea, Indonesian House Speaker Marzuki Alie said on Tuesday.
Marzuki, speaking in Senggigi, Lombok, where the 33rd conference of the group known as AIPA is being held, was quoted by the Antara state news agency as saying that when the resolution on the South China Sea was proposed in July, tension was high in the region between China and several other claimant countries in the area.
However, Marzuki, who is also currently the AIPA chairman, added that the situation was not conducive to peace and that countries with overlapping territorial claims in the South China Sea have not agreed to focus on formulating a code of conduct for the region.
“There are too many pros and cons,” Marzuki said.
He added that dialogue and consultations between the various countries involved were better in helping create a secure and stable region.
The conference, which on Tuesday entered its third day, set about to determine an agenda and the formation of committees in the fields of politics, economics and social affairs. Also, it wanted to seek out women for the joint committee and encourage dialogue with observers.
The standoff over territorial disputes between four Asean states — the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia — and China had put the spotlight on the alliance when, for the first time since its establishment in 1967, it failed to come up with a joint communique in July.
The joint communique was supposed to be a base in which to negotiate a code of conduct between Asean and China regarding the South China Sea. Failure to issue such a code, critics said, might jeopardize a future relationship as well as threaten political stability within the region.
Following the July meeting, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa embarked on a 36-hour “shuttle diplomacy” mission to the conflicting countries and was able to get the countries to agree on six general principles on the issue.
Marty called on fellow Asean members on Monday to work harder and to leave “negative assumptions” behind in order to come up with a common position regarding the South China Sea dispute.
Meanwhile, Brunei is offering to host the 34th conference in September 2014.
The delegation from Brunei officially made the offer at the plenary of the conference on Tuesday, Antara said.
The AIPA membership consists of the 10 members of Asean.
Observer delegations came from Australia, Belarus, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea and Russia.