ASEAN can not resolve sea disputes: Secretary General

Trump and Putin stand side by side for APEC family

The South China Sea was discussed in Beijing on an earlier leg of Trump's 12-day Asian tour and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States and China had a frank exchange of views.

President Donald Trump has offered to mediate in the South China Sea disputes, while his Chinese counterpart played down concerns over Beijing's military build-up and the prospects of war in the contested waters.

This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, the location of several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region. From left, with formal titles: Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Mr Li, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo and Laos' Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith.

China's agreement to begin discussions with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the fine print of a code of conduct framework for the disputed South China Sea will be a "stabiliser" for the region, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said.

Vietnam has become the most vocal opponent of China's claims and its construction and militarisation of artificial islands in the sea, through which about $3-trillion in goods pass each year.

Trump acknowledged that China's position on the South China Sea was a problem.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano did not directly answer when asked about Trump's offer.

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In a joint statement, Asean and China agreed to "intensify cooperation and assistance to combat corruption", as part of efforts to enhance regional cooperation under the Asean-China Strategic Partnership.

The stop in the Philippines is the last leg of a tour that has taken Trump to Japan, South Korea and China as well as Vietnam, the longest Asia trip by a US president in more than 25 years.

In 2013, the Philippines filed an worldwide arbitration case against China, and scored victory three years later. Duterte took steps to thaw frosty relations with China after he won the presidency past year.

"If you go to the negotiating table and you start with the statement that I am here to claim validity of our ownership, you're wasting your time. They will not talk about it", Duterte said of China. I have done plenty of it from both sides.

"We tried to put some structures in one of the sandbars near our island and the Chinese reacted", Lorenzana told a diplomatic forum in Manila, adding that Duterte later ordered, "Let's pull out".

The Chinese leader, however, would not back down on Beijing's territorial claim, Mr Duterte said.

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