Asean will start negotiations on CoC in January 2019, says foreign minister

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to Malay Mail at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya November 1, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to Malay Mail at Wisma Putra in Putrajaya November 1, 2018. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR,  Nov 26 — Asean will start negotiations on the Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea with China in January 2019, said Foreign Minister  Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said the decision to start the negotiations to assure peace, security and stability in the South China Sea was agreed to at the 33rd Asean Summit in Singapore recently.

“We hope in three years, it the (CoC negotiations ) can be settled and the outcome implemented,” he said when winding up debate on Budget 2019 for his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Saifuddin said Malaysia is committed to seeing the CoC realised because it would be more effective in assuring peace in the waters as compared to the Declaration on Conduct (DoC) in the South China Sea that was signed in 2002.

However, he said the matter was still vague because Malaysia still did not know how far China was willing to go on the negotiations.

“In the three years (of the negotiations), anything can happen and even if an agreement is signed , we cannot be certain whether China will fully observe the CoC,” he added. — Bernama