JAKARTA, Indonesia — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Monday for Southeast Asian states to present a united front to the Chinese in dealing with territorial disputes in the South China Sea to ‘‘literally calm the waters.’’ And she urged all involved to make ‘‘meaningful progress’’ on a process for ending conflicts by November.
In Indonesia’s capital, Clinton offered strong US support for a regionally endorsed plan to ease rising tensions by implementing a code of conduct for all claimants to disputed islands.
Jakarta is the headquarters of the Association of South East Asian Nations, and Clinton also pressed the group to insist that China agree to a formal mechanism to reduce short-term risks of conflict and ultimately come to final settlements over sovereignty.
‘‘The United States has a national interest, as every country does, in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea,’’ Clinton told reporters at a news conference with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa.
‘‘The United States does not take a position on competing territorial claims . . . but we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation and certainly without the use of force,’’ she said. ‘‘That is why we encourage ASEAN and China to make meaningful progress toward finalizing a comprehensive code of conduct in order to establish rules of the road and clear procedures for peacefully addressing disagreements.’’
Clinton is in Indonesia on the second stop of an 11-day, six-nation tour that began in the Cook Islands and will take her to China, East Timor, Brunei, and Russia’s Far East. She travels to China on Tuesday to continue talks on the South China Sea and a number of other issues, including the crisis in Syria and ways to deal with Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programs.
Indonesia has played a leading role in putting the six-point code of conduct together after the associated was unable to reach consensus on the matter in July. Clinton said the US is ‘‘encouraged’’ by the plan but wants it acted on.