The United States of America yesterday lashed out at acts by North Korea and human rights abuses in Myanmar and opened a new source of friction with China - the topic of the South China Sea.
At the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Vietnam, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a North Korean official commented on the ship incident, the upcoming military drills and the imposition of new US sanctions against North Korea. Mr Ri Tong Il, spokesperson of North Korea, repeated Pyongyang's denial of responsibility for the March sinking of the ship that killed 46 South Korean sailors and said the upcoming military drills were a violation of its sovereignty.
Mrs Hillary Clinton said 'the US has a national interest' in resolving conflicting claims over the Spratly and Paracel island chains in the South China Sea, particularly those by China and Vietnam. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi repeated Beijing's long-standing position that the disputes should not be 'internationalised' and must be solved through bilateral talks.
Mrs Clinton also raised concerns about potential atomic collaboration between North Korea and Myanmar, which is restricted by United Nations agreements.
US has harsh words for North Korea, Myanmar [Straits Times, 24 July 2010]
Pyongyang threatens 'physical response' [Straits Times, 24 July 2010]