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International relations

ASEAN stresses freedom of overflight above South China Sea

Virtual summit leaves door open for India to sign up to RCEP by end of 2020

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the ASEAN summit on June 26. The meeting hosted by Hanoi took place online.   © Reuters

HANOI/SINGAPORE -- Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Friday stressed the importance of "freedom of overflight" over the South China Sea, sending a strong message to China, which has not ruled out imposing an air defense identification zone over the area.

The leaders, attending a virtual ASEAN summit hosted by Vietnam, also agreed to address public health care challenges by establishing a regional pandemic fund and building reserves of medical supplies. With COVID-19 testing the bloc's resilience and trade ties, they vowed to maintain open and connected supply chains as well.

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