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Malaysia's leader says Southeast Asian nations to pursue talks with Beijing on South China Sea

  • Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, fourth right, and Laos's Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, fifth right, attend the opening ceremony for the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

    Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, fourth right, and Laos's Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, fifth right, attend the opening ceremony for the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)  (The Associated Press)

  • From left to right, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, and Philippine's President Benigno Aquino III join their hands during the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

    From left to right, Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, and Philippine's President Benigno Aquino III join their hands during the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)  (The Associated Press)

  • Philippine's President Benigno Aquino III gestures before the plenary session of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

    Philippine's President Benigno Aquino III gestures before the plenary session of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, April 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)  (The Associated Press)

Malaysia's leader says Southeast Asian countries will avoid direct confrontation with China but will push for a quick conclusion to a binding code of conduct to govern behavior in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations' non-confrontational approach to the dispute has been effective in keeping tensions at bay. He said at an ASEAN leaders' summit that the bloc will pursue constructive engagement with China.

Najib indirectly rejected calls by the Philippines for ASEAN to stand up to China. Manila warned that Beijing was poised to take "de facto control" with its land reclamation in the area.

China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.