ASEAN Talks Tackle Pandemic, Sea Feud Amid US-China Rivalry



Hau Dinh |Yves Dam Van | Associated Press

Southeast Asia’s top diplomats held their annual talks by video Wednesday to discuss the immense crisis wrought by the coronavirus pandemic and rising tensions in the South China Sea amid the escalating rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministerial meetings, delayed by a month, were held online due to continuing health risks posed by COVID-19. The 10-nation bloc’s foreign ministers were to meet Asian and Western counterparts, including those from the U.S. and China, later in the week, capped by an annual security forum.

Vietnam is hosting the talks as this year’s chairman of the diverse group. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called for regional solidarity amid the headwinds in an austere opening ceremony attended by a few dozen diplomats in the capital, Hanoi.

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