ASEAN wants talks on nonaggression pact with China soonest

Southeast Asia's top diplomats say will seek talks "as soon as possible" on a proposed nonaggression pact with China aimed at preventing clashes in the disputed South China Sea.

An initial draft of a joint communique to be issued by the foreign ministers of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which was seen The Associated Press on Wednesday, says the ministers will ask senior diplomats to initiate talks on the so-called code of conduct in the disputed waters after their governments agreed on a framework of the accord with China.

The long-seething territorial disputes, alarm over North Korea's missile tests and the rise of Islamic radicalism are expected to grab the spotlight in the annual gathering in Manila starting Saturday.

China claims the strategic waterways virtually in totality.