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Biden discusses China’s sea claims with Singapore PM

US Vice President Joe Biden/FILE

US Vice President Joe Biden/FILE

WASHINGTON, June 26- US Vice President Joe Biden and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong discussed China’s “destabilizing behavior” in the South China Sea on Wednesday, the White House said.

The two men, meeting for the third time in just over a year, also talked about the slow negotiations on a huge trans-Pacific trade deal that could eventually encompass 40 percent of the world economy.

“The two leaders discussed mutual concerns over a pattern of destabilizing behavior in the South China Sea and reiterated their mutual interest in international law, freedom of navigation and the peaceful resolution of maritime and territorial disputes,” the White House said in a statement.

China claims most of the South China Sea — including waters approaching its neighbors’ coastlines — and has been increasingly assertive in staking the claims.

Washington says it does not take a position in the disputes, but its insistence that Beijing should follow “rules of the road” and discuss the matter in regional fora with American allies has antagonized China.

Biden and Lee also discussed the latest developments in the proposed 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, currently snagged on long running market access between the United States and Japan.

“Noting the advanced state of negotiations, the two leaders agreed on the importance of working together to finalize an ambitious, high-standard agreement as soon as possible,” the statement said.

Obama said last week he hopes to have an agreement on framing the TPP by the time he makes his next visit to Asia in November.

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