The concept is an initiative by the United States and Japan, apparently aimed at countering Beijing's rising assertiveness in the nearby waters and its growing economic influence in the region.
The representatives agreed on the need for their "mutual understanding and trust-building to address challenges for regional security," the statement said.
The Japanese government has said that the islands are of strategic importance to Tokyo in both the economic and security arenas. China has provided loans and development assistance for projects such as the construction of infrastructure facilities in the region, increasing its presence among them.
The representatives also discussed cooperation for disaster relief and climate change as these island nations are concerned about rising sea levels.
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