G7 leaders voice strong opposition to South China Sea land reclamation
Leaders of the Group of Seven industrialised nations have expressed "strong opposition" to land reclamation in disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Wrapping up a two-day summit in Germany, world leaders also warned Russia it would face stepped-up sanctions for its "aggression" in Ukraine.
"We underline the importance of peaceful dispute settlement as well as free and unimpeded lawful use of the world's oceans," they said in a communique at Elmau Castle, in southern Germany.
Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, while the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have overlapping claims.
"We strongly oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or force, as well as any unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo, such as large-scale land reclamation," the G7 leaders said.
It fell short of singling out China, but the wording was an apparent reference to Beijing's reclamation work in the South China Sea.
Xinhua noted none of the G7 states was directly involved in the South China Sea dispute.
"Unreasonable interference in maritime disputes between China and some Asian countries will not only harm relations between the West and China, but also threaten peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," it said.
The world leaders also expressed concern about tensions in the East China Sea, where Beijing has repeatedly been sending ships into waters around the Diaoyu Islands, called Senkaku in Japan.
Referring to an upsurge of violence between Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine government forces in eastern Ukraine, the G7 leaders demanded all parties involved fully implement a ceasefire agreement struck in Belarus in February.
For the third time, Russian President Vladimir Putin was barred from a G7 summit over the violence in Ukraine. "We ... stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase cost on Russia should its actions so require," the leaders said.
The tough line from the world's power brokers came as Ukraine's defence minister accused pro-Russian rebels - backed by Moscow - of deploying an army of 40,000 men on the Ukrainian border. The latest casualties came yesterday when at least seven Ukrainian servicemen were killed as their truck hit a mine planted by pro-Russian insurgents, a Kiev military spokesman said.
"Ultimately this is going to be an issue for Mr Putin," Obama said. "Does he continue to wreck his country's economy and continue Russia's isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire or does he recognise that Russia's greatness does not depend on violating" other countries' territory, he said.
Kyodo, Agence France-Presse