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Security conference warned of flashpoint over China Sea land claims

October 18, 2013, 14:06 UTC+3
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MOSCOW, October 18 (Itar-Tass) - Conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea were generating a source of instablity in Asia, delegates to an inernational maritime security conference agreed on Friday.

“We are concerned that the region threatens to turn from a development point into a flashpoint," said State Duma lower house deputy chairman Nikolai Levichev. "It is important to prevent conflicts from entering an acute phase and to strengthen Russia’s influence in the region,” he said.

Delegates said countries mired in conflict had long been negotiating but had not yet found a solution to issues of maritime delimitation, fishing, oil and gas exploration and production, and freedom of navigation. Armed competition threatened regional security, they warned.

Vitaliy Naumkin, director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute for Oriental Studies, said the international community was paying increasing attention to the region’s problems. "Many countries are keen to see Russia more actively involved in resolution of the region’s troubles,” he said, adding that Russia was deepening relations with regional powers, notably China.

Alexander Tokovinin, the foreign ministry's Director of Foreign Policy Planning, said regional claims over territories in the South China Sea should choose the path of moderation, reject the use of force and settle disputes diplomatically. He said the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea could serve as a foundation for settlements and that “internationalisation of disputes is counterproductive”, noting that the Pacific Rim's role in politics and economy "has been increasingly important in recent decades”.

“The region will retain its role if it maintains peace and stability,” Tokovinin added. “Russia is an integral part of the region and is keen to use its potential for the development of Siberia and the Far East,” he said. The diplomat called for creation of a network of partnerships, pointing to discussions scheduled for November in Brunei and a second gathering in Russia next year.


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