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South China Sea deal eases US-China tension

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Saul Loeb/AP

(Read caption) U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, walks to a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Ministerial Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Friday, July 22.

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• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today praised China and the regional bloc ASEAN for reaching a draft agreement this week to ease tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

China claims sovereignty over the entire sea, but the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia also claim parts of it as their own. A third of the world's shipping passes through this body of water, which is also rich in oil and natural gas, the Associated Press reports.

China, which has been accused of trying to intimidate the Philippines and Vietnam into stopping their oil exploration in the sea, has long resisted signing any agreement that would require that disputes be resolved peacefully until now. China's acquiescence to the draft agreement – which ends more than a decade of deadlock and brings the countries closer to a final, legally binding code of conduct – was likely spurred by a desire to get the issue off the table before Clinton's arrival Thursday night at the ASEAN summit in Bali, Reuters reports.

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