ASEAN nations "seriously concerned" over S.China Sea land reclamation

KUALA LUMPUR - The ASEAN group of Southeast Asian nations said it was "seriously concerned" about land reclamation in the South China Sea, according to a draft of the final communique to be issued at the end of talks in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday and seen by Reuters.

Members states had wrangled hard before finally agreeing on the wording of the communique, which follows talks dominated by unease about China's assertiveness in the disputed waterway, a key global trade route.

The communique is expected to say that South China Sea matters were extensively discussed.

It will also say that China and ASEAN countries would proceed to the "next stage" of consultations on a code of conduct that is intended to bind them to detailed rules of behaviour at sea.

Foreign ministers from the 10 ASEAN member states were joined this week by their counterparts from various countries, including China and the United States.