MANILA, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Tuesday that the single negotiating text draft of the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea recently reached by China and ASEAN is "already a breakthrough."
The foreign ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China agreed at their meeting in Singapore last week on a single draft document that will form the basis of the negotiations of COC.
"Having a single draft is already a breakthrough. The ASEAN member states and China see eye to eye in the need for an effective code of conduct," Cayetano said.
Cayetano said the timeline for the formal negotiations is still being discussed.
The Philippine foreign affair chief also declined to reveal details contained in the draft citing the sensitivity of the negotiations.
He said no one is expecting the negotiations to be easy "but everyone is looking forward to the day that we can actually sign" the code of conduct.
The Philippines has assumed the role of ASEAN-China country coordinator since this August. Cayetano said the Philippines is "happy" to take over as the country coordinator of ASEAN-China dialogue relations for the next three years. "It's an important job," he said especially now that the COC is being negotiated.
The ASEAN member states and China had agreed on a single draft COC negotiating text at an ASEAN-China senior officials' meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in Changsha, China, on June 27.
China and ASEAN states signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) in the South China Sea in 2002. The DOC outlines the most important principles in the South China Sea, and consultations for the COC were launched by the two sides in 2013. Both are aimed at safeguarding peace and stability in the region.