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Originally published Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 6:29 AM

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SE Asia to ask China to start talks over islands

Southeast Asian leaders have decided to ask China to start formal talks "as soon as possible" on crafting a legally-binding, non-aggression accord to prevent possible major clashes in disputed South China Sea territories.

Associated Press

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia —

Southeast Asian leaders have decided to ask China to start formal talks "as soon as possible" on crafting a legally-binding, non-aggression accord to prevent possible major clashes in disputed South China Sea territories.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan says the leaders of the 10-member ASEAN bloc made the decision during their annual summit on Sunday in Cambodia. The move is to assuage the fears in the international community over possible outbreak of violence in the contested region.

Pitsuwan says the decision will be conveyed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the host of summit, to his Chinese counterpart, Wen Jiabao, who will arrive in Cambodia late Sunday to take part in expanded ASEAN meetings in the next two days.

The disputes involve China and four ASEAN countries.

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