SEOUL, Nov. 4 (UPI) -- South Korea agreed to establish an emergency hotline with China's navy and military, but is siding with the United States and Japan in their opposition against Chinese activities in the South China Sea.
The agreement with Beijing came during a Wednesday meeting on the sidelines between South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo and his Chinese counterpart Chang Wanquan, during the third annual ASEAN Defense Minister's meeting, or ADMM-Plus, South Korean news network YTN reported.
The larger gathering had ended on a bitter note, after ASEAN member countries could not agree on whether they should include a clause on China's South China Sea activities in their final statement. The statement was not issued, and members ended the gathering without posing for a souvenir photograph, South Korean television network MBC reported.
Chang was the first to suggest the hotline to Han, and the South Korean defense minister agreed to the idea. Han then suggested a direct-dial phone for the navy and the air force of the two sides, and Chang concurred, according to South Korea press.
In a separate speech delivered during a plenary session, Han said freedom of navigation should be guaranteed in the South China Sea and that all parties should abide by "international norms," while not mentioning China by name.
Kyodo News reported Chang also met with Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani in what is the first defense ministerial meeting in over four years. At press time, Nakatani had said that he plans to raise the issue of freedom of navigation and international law with Chang and discuss ways to prevent further clashes in the East China Sea over the Senkaku, or Diaoyu Islands.