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Jakarta Post

Marty calls for restraint in East China Sea dispute

  • Bagus BT Saragih

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, December 10, 2013   /  11:40 am

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa called for restraint on Monday by all related parties in the increasingly escalating territorial disputes in the East China Sea.

Marty'€™s statement came on the heels of South Korea'€™s announcement that it had extended its air defense zone to partially overlap with a similar zone declared by China two weeks ago

Seoul'€™s move was seen as a response to Beijing'€™s unilateral declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in an area that includes islands at the heart of a dispute with Japan and South Korea. China'€™s move triggered protests from the two nations, as well as the US and Australia.

'€œWe have reached a point when all related parties must commit to establishing a conducive situation and restrain from actions that could increase uncertainty, even tension,'€ Marty told The Jakarta Post at the State Palace after attending the celebration of International Anti-Corruption Day and International Human Rights Day.

Marty underlined the importance of dialogue in resolving conflict. '€œWe have many options of modalities on the table. Numerous forums, both formal and informal ones, can be used for communication. Differences of opinion or stances are indeed inevitable but that should not lead to tensions and potential conflict,'€ the minister said.

 Marty, however, stopped short when asked if Indonesia had talked to China, viewed by many as being responsible for the initial tension resulting from its ADIZ declaration. '€œGod willing, we always communicate ['€¦] with all parties,'€ he said.

Announcing the expansion of its own zone to include two territorial islands to the south and a submerged rock also claimed by China, South Korea'€™s defense ministry said the move would not infringe on neighboring countries'€™ sovereignty.

'€œWe believe this will not significantly impact our relationships with China and with Japan as we try to work for peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia,'€ defense ministry head of policy Jang Hyuk told a briefing as quoted by Reuters. There was no immediate reaction from China, although Beijing'€™s response to news last week that South Korea was reviewing its options on the ADIZ was relatively low key.

Earlier Marty expressed his hope that China'€™s announcement of its ADIZ would not create tension in Southeast Asia where some of the countries in the region have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

'€œI think Indonesia, just like other nations, wishes to ensure that there is no tension in our region. Everything must be addressed through dialogue,'€ Marty said.

China'€™s unilateral act in the East China Sea has sparked concern that it might set up a similar zone over the South China Sea. When asked about such concerns last Monday, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing said that China had a sovereign right to establish a defense zone over another region as it had done in the East China Sea.

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