Cambodia hosts a gala dinner for ASEAN leaders and dialogue partners.

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 20, 2012 08:40 hrs

Leaders of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) and regional partners attended dinner at Cambodia's Diamond Island Convention Centre on Monday, and brought to an end to a tense day of talks on the South China Sea issue, which threatened to expose rifts between ASEAN members and also China over how the issue should be dealt with

ASEAN showed rare unity on Sunday, saying that they had agreed not to "internationalise" their disputes over rival claims to the potentially oil-and-gas rich sea.

China has always maintained that issues should be dealt with bilaterally and not through regional groups like ASEAN. It has also insisted that countries like the Philippines should not seek outside support from the United States.

The Philippines publicly disputed ASEAN host Cambodia's statement that the leaders had reached a consensus not to "internationalise" the South China Sea dispute.

China has repeatedly sought to reject involvement by nations outside Southeast Asia at a sensitive time, as Washington seeks an expanded military and diplomatic presence in the region.

U.S. President Barack Obama, accompanied by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived from Myanmar in the last leg of his Southeast Asian trip.

He held a bilateral meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, where he raised areas of concern, such as Cambodia's human rights record and land grabbing.

U.S. officials described the mood of the meeting as "tense" and the two leaders had said they would discuss the matter over dinner. (ANI)

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