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Apr 25, 11:01 AM EDT

ASEAN leaders likely to go soft on sea feud in Manila summit

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Southeast Asian leaders will express serious concern over territorial disputes in the South China Sea when they gather in an annual summit in Manila this week, but a draft of a communique to be issued at the end of the meeting indicates they will adopt subdued language on a conflict that has increasingly alarmed Asian and Western governments.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has warmed once-frosty relations with China, hosts his counterparts in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on Saturday. A draft of the "chairman's statement" to be issued at the end of the summit obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press does not mention an arbitration decision last year that invalidated China's claims to the strategic waterway.

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