JUSTIN LANE / EPA
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley ruled that out on Saturday, saying Washington would continue to take “prudent defensive measures”, including joint military drills with South Korea.
Separately, Southeast Asian officials were still trying to reach consensus on a customary communiqué that was supposed to have been released on Saturday, reflecting differences about how to address disputes involving Beijing in the South China Sea.
According to several diplomats from the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vietnam wanted the text to explicitly oppose the building and militarization of artificial islands in disputed waters.
China is sensitive about ASEAN including even veiled references to the expansion of its military capabilities on the islands.
ASEAN’s problem in agreeing the wording highlight China’s growing influence at a time of uncertainty over the new U.S. administration’s policy on the South China Sea and to what extent it will contest China’s assertiveness.