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Posted: August 9, 2014 10:00 p.m.

Kerry seeks to calm South China Sea tensions

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Saturday urged China and its neighbors to take new steps to ease tensions over maritime disputes that many fear could spark conflict.

Under the proposal he presented, China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that have competing claims to territory in the South China Sea would voluntarily halt provocative actions.

Recent activity by several nations, particularly China, in disputed areas has heightened concerns about confrontation, which would destabilize the Asia-Pacific, interfere with international maritime commerce and roil the global economy.

"The United States and ASEAN have a common responsibility to ensure the maritime safety of critical global sea lanes and ports," Kerry told foreign ministers, including those from claimant states Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, on the sidelines of an annual regional security forum.

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