Concerns About South China Sea Dominate ASEAN Summit
A summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations opened in Kuala Lumpur Monday, with Beijing's island-building efforts in the South China Sea set to dominate the two-day conference.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak opened the conference by urging the nine other ASEAN leaders to peacefully manage territorial disputes with China without increasing tensions in the region.
China has been reclaiming land and building airstrips and infrastructure in the Spratly islands, which are also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The area is rich in natural resources and is a main trade route.
Kerry, Zarif to Meet as Iran Nuclear Talks Continue Toward June Deadline
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will meet Monday in New York for the first time since announcing a framework deal to curtail Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
A senior State Department official said Sunday the meeting will take place on the sidelines of the U.N.'s conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Negotiators from Iran and a group of six world powers have given themselves until June 30 to agree on a final deal addressing Iran's nuclear program and concerns that it could be used to develop nuclear weapons.
Critics of the talks, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, say the U.S. and its partners Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany are being too soft on Iran and would allow too much nuclear activity to continue while taking away the sanctions.
U.S. President Barack Obama has defended the provisions of the framework deal, emphasizing that sanctions could be reimposed if Iran failed to uphold its part of the agreement.
In a rare appearance Saturday at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, former President George W. Bush expressed his criticism, questioning the feasibility of putting the sanctions back into place.