Jakarta (ANTARA) - Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi underscored Indonesia's readiness to work together with all ASEAN members, including the Philippines, to finalize the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea (SCS) as soon as possible.

Marsudi made the statement after a bilateral meeting with Philippine Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo in Manila on Tuesday (January 9).

"We welcome the Statement on Maintaining and Promoting Stability in the Maritime Sphere in Southeast Asia issued by ASEAN Foreign Ministers on December 30 last year," the minister stated according to a transcript of her press statement.

According to Marsudi, the ASEAN foreign ministers' statement is an important step to ensure peace, stability, and prosperity in the SCS.

The Philippines and China have frequently been involved in disputes in the waters of the SCS in recent months, especially near the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, which is part of the Spratly Islands.

China claims sovereignty over almost all areas of the SCS, including parts of the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016 said China's claims had no legal basis.

In November 2023, the Philippines proposed a new code of conduct for stability and peace in the SCS.

The proposal came following the concern echoed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr regarding prolonged negotiations between Southeast Asian countries and China regarding the COC in the SCS.

The ASEAN and China signed the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in November 2002. It was the first time that China accepted a multilateral agreement regarding the issue.

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Translator: Yashinta Difa, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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