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ASEAN discord blocks issuance of joint statement on sea feud

  • Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose answers questions from reporters in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Jose answered questions from reporters, who asked why the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers were unable to issue a joint statement about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which could have offended China after a Beijing-hosted meeting in the southern Chinese city of Yuxi. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose answers questions from reporters in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Jose answered questions from reporters, who asked why the Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers were unable to issue a joint statement about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which could have offended China after a Beijing-hosted meeting in the southern Chinese city of Yuxi. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)  (The Associated Press)

  • Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose speaks during a press conference in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines Thursday, June 16, 2016. Jose answered questions from reporters, who asked why Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers were unable to issue a joint statement about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which could have offended China after a Beijing-hosted meeting in the southern Chinese city of Yuxi. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose speaks during a press conference in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines Thursday, June 16, 2016. Jose answered questions from reporters, who asked why Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers were unable to issue a joint statement about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which could have offended China after a Beijing-hosted meeting in the southern Chinese city of Yuxi. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)  (The Associated Press)

  • Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose touches his forehead as he answers questions from reporters in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Jose answered questions from reporters, who asked why Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers were unable to issue a joint statement about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which could have offended China after a Beijing-hosted meeting in the southern Chinese city of Yuxi. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

    Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose touches his forehead as he answers questions from reporters in suburban Pasay, south of Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Jose answered questions from reporters, who asked why Association of Southeast Asian Nations foreign ministers were unable to issue a joint statement about the territorial disputes in the South China Sea which could have offended China after a Beijing-hosted meeting in the southern Chinese city of Yuxi. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)  (The Associated Press)

The Philippines says differences within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations prevented the 10-nation bloc from issuing a tough statement on territorial feuds in the South China Sea after a meeting hosted by China this week.

Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose told reporters Thursday that the ASEAN foreign ministers' failure to issue a joint statement after discussing the disputes with their Chinese counterpart prompted half of the bloc's member states to issue their own individual statements.

Jose said the ministers initially agreed on the text of the joint statement but some may have changed their mind later, preventing it from being issued publicly.

The disunity underscores the difficulty of resolving the disputes, which analysts fear could spark an armed confrontation in one of the world's busiest sea lanes.