ASEAN makes progress on trade, not on sea disputes

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Associated Press

Posted on April 24, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 24 at 11:30 PM

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AP) — Southeast Asian leaders have made progress on an ambitious plan to weld their region into a European Union-style community as a counterweight to Asian powerhouse China. There's less optimism about a nonaggression pact for the South China Sea.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders had hoped China would agree soon to talk about the disputed waters. But China has given no clear indication when it would agree to negotiate. The summit ends later Thursday.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III told reporters, "Everybody is interested in having a peaceful resolution."

Diplomats said ASEAN was on track to meet its deadline on becoming an economic bloc of more than 600 million people by the end of 2015. A confidential draft document says work is about 77 percent done.

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