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Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his 10 ASEAN counterparts have re-emphasised to China the importance of freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Seas as they wrapped up a special summit in Sydney.

After three days of talks, the leaders on Sunday agreed to intensify their response to regional challenges including North Korea’s nuclear missile program, cross-border terrorism, and ensuring international law is maintained in the South China Sea.

The leaders emphasised in a joint statement the importance of non-militarisation in the South China Sea, where Beijing has been building artificial reefs to use as defence bases, and said there was a need to avoid “actions that may complicate the situation”.

However the statement shied away from directly mentioning Myanmar’s Rohingya refugee crisis, despite Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warning the summit on Saturday the crisis could explode into a serious security threat for the region.