The foreign ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] are meeting in Laos on July 24 with the South China Sea dispute expected to dominate the session.
The meeting in Vientiane is expected to focus on the July 12 ruling by a tribunal based in The Hague that invalidated China's claims to most of the South China Sea.
The Philippines brought the case before the court, but Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia have also rejected China’s position.
ASEAN diplomats have been working on a joint statement to release at the end of the foreign ministers' meeting but there is still disagreement among some members as to how to treat the ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
Several countries are allies of China and would prefer avoiding any language that would further anger China. Beijing has already said it does not recognize the court ruling against China's claims.
The meeting will be expanded on July 26 for the East Asia Summit. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in Laos on July 25 to take part in the expanded session, along with top diplomats from China, Japan, Russia, and other countries.