U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with his counterparts from South East Asia after they were unable to agree on a statement criticizing China for territorially expansion in the South China Sea.

Kerry met with the foreign ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations at a regional security conference in Laos on Monday and made no direct mention of the South China Sea tensions. Instead, he praised ASEAN for speaking up for "a rules-based international system that protects the rights of all nations."

Earlier Monday, the bloc, however, omitted any mention of a recent international arbitration panel ruling in a dispute between the Philippines and China that said Beijing's claims in the South China Sea were illegal.