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ASEAN maritime summit in Manila to include China, Japan

As territorial disputes roil the West Philippine and East China Seas, the Philippines will host a regional maritime forum that will gather claimant countries China, Japan, and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The third ASEAN Maritime Forum and the first Expanded Maritime Forum will be held in Manila from October 3 to 5. The meeting is part of ASEAN’s goal of political and security engagement with the regional bloc’s dialogue partners. According to Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio, the summit will be the first time that these matters will be discussed among the 18 members of the East Asia Summit (EAS): China, Japan, the US, India, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, Australia and ASEAN members the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Brunei. Four of the ASEAN nations are claimants to parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea): Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and the Philippines. The expanded forum will include participants from the private sector and academe. "The Philippines believes that countries in the region face common challenges that require collaborative approaches," Basilio said in a news release posted on the DFA website. She added that since East Asia countries play key roles in sustaining global economic growth, the region needs “to have a safe, secure, environmentally sound and connected seas that support [our] growth, economic integration and long term stability.” According to the DFA, the meetings will pursue directives from the 6th East Asia Summit, where EAS leaders recognized the importance of promoting maritime cooperation, including sea piracy, search at sea, marine environment, maritime security, maritime connectivity, freedom of navigation and fisheries. — BM, GMA News