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Philippines, Vietnam urge peace in South China Sea
by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) Oct 26, 2011

Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Vietnamese counterpart Truong Tan Sang pressed for a "zone of peace" in the hotly disputed South China Sea, at a joint news conference on Wednesday.

The Philippine president said he and his Vietnamese counterpart "reaffirmed the importance of the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime safety and security in the region".

Sang, speaking with Aquino at a joint news conference during a state visit, said his country supported Philippine calls for settling the disputes through international law and the creation of a "zone of peace" in the South China Sea.

The two Southeast Asian countries have overlapping claims on the Spratly Islands along with Brunei, China, Malaysia, and Taiwan that have caused rising tensions in the reputedly resources-rich waters that host key shipping lanes.

Amid the tensions, Aquino has been trying to get Southeast Asian neighbours to form a united front against China's sovereignty claim on all of the sea, including waters lapping the coasts of some of these other countries.

The Philippines has accused the Chinese military of aggressive acts in the Philippine-claimed areas of the South China Sea this year, including firing on Filipino fishermen, laying buoys and harassing an oil exploration vessel.

"We agreed that a rules-based approach, adhering to international law... is essential to the pursuit of a peaceful resolution of these issues through multilateral dialogue and consultations," Aquino said.

He said he and Sang also stressed that a 2002 declaration by the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations members plus China on the conduct of the parties to the South China Sea dispute should be fully implemented.

Spratly claimants Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, along with Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand make up the ASEAN.


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Taiwan urges better South China Sea defence
Taipei (AFP) Oct 26, 2011 - Taiwan's security chief called Wednesday for improved defences of a group of islands in the South China Sea, reacting to reports that rival claimants to the disputed waters are building up their arms.

"The Spratly Islands are our territory ... We should upgrade our defence capabilities and replace some ageing equipment," Tsai De-sheng, head of the national security bureau, said in parliament.

Tsai's comments came after defence minister Kao Hua-chu endorsed a plan proposed by lawmakers to deploy advanced missiles in the contested waters over concerns that Taiwan's coastguards were vulnerable.

The Taiwanese coastguard currently has a 130-strong garrison on Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratlys archipelago.

Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim all or part of the Spratlys, which could lie on top of large oil reserves.

All claimants except Brunei have troops based on the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which have a total land mass of less than five square kilometres (two square miles).

Taiwan's navy in July took a group of academics to the disputed islands, despite a flare-up of regional tensions over rival claims for the contested waters.

Tensions in the decades-old dispute escalated this year amid accusations from the Philippines and Vietnam that China was becoming increasingly aggressive in staking its claims.


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BP says reaches turning point, 18 months after oil disaster
London (AFP) Oct 25, 2011
BP surged back into profit in the first nine months of the year, it said Tuesday, declaring that it has now reached a "clear turning point" after the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in April 2010. The energy major added it will sell another $15 billion of non-core assets by 2013, expanding its divestment programme to $45 billion, as it seeks to recover oil spill-related costs and re- ... read more

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