20 Nov 2012

PM says tension building over South China Sea at summit

10:34 pm on 20 November 2012

A dispute over the South China Sea is threatening to overshadow talks at the East Asia Summit in Cambodia.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key says tension is building among Asian leaders over the territorial row.

Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and Brunei dispute China's claim to virtually the entire South China Sea.

Mr Key says the disputed areas are difficult issues to negotiate, but he says the level of tension shouldn't be enough to undermine the East Asian talks.

He says he has told the Chinese Premier New Zealand is not picking sides in the debate, but it does want a peaceful resolution.