Top diplomats from the Asia-Pacific region started gathering on Tuesday in the Thai capital to discuss issues of concern to the area, including security on the Korean peninsula and China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. The meetings in Bangkok are hosted by the member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, chaired this year by Thailand. Thai officials say there will be 27 meetings in all through Saturday and that 31 countries and alliances will participate. A representative of North Korea will be present in Bangkok, a Thai foreign ministry spokesman said last week, though it is not clear if Pyongyang is sending its foreign minister.
The member Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN and China have probably talked enough to eliminate any sticky points in the code — issues touching on who owns which islands, for example — to approach a first reading by their major annual meeting in November, scholars in Asia say. A code would help guide ships away from mishaps and resolve any accidents in the vast, crowded South China Sea without giving any government express priority. A June 9 collision between Philippine and Chinese vessels, backed by growing regional pressure on China, gave new impetus to signing a code. The premier in China, which was once feared to be opposing the code, had estimated last year completion of a code by , but in March Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said via state media the date should be moved up.
Everybody needs the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership to be concluded by this year, says Enggartiasto Lukita, Indonesia's trade minister. He also says he believes that all 16 countries will be on board with the trade agreement. Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said all 16 countries negotiating a mega Asia-Pacific trade agreement should remain in the framework.