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US Backs Resumption of China-Philippines Talks
International

US Backs Resumption of China-Philippines Talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he supported the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, following an international court ruling against Beijing over the dispute earlier this month.
China did not participate in and has refused to accept the July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based in The Hague, the Netherlands, in which US ally Manila won a legal victory, Reuters reported.
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi had asked Kerry to lend his support for bilateral talks to restart between Manila and Beijing in a meeting between the two in the Laos capital of Vientiane on Monday.
“The foreign minister said the time has come to move away from public tensions and turn the page,” Kerry told a news conference. “And we agree with that ... No claimant should be acting in a way that is provocative, no claimant should take steps that wind up raising tensions.”
The court ruling has exacerbated tensions between the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which are pulled between their desire to assert their sovereignty while fostering ties with an increasingly assertive Beijing.
China scored a diplomatic victory on Monday when ASEAN dropped any reference to the ruling from a joint statement at the end of the bloc’s foreign ministers’ meeting in the face of resolute objections from Cambodia, China’s closest ASEAN ally.
Kerry, who was due to travel to the Philippines later on Tuesday, said he would encourage Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to engage in dialogue and negotiations with China when the two meet in Manila on Wednesday.
Duterte has already appointed former president Fidel Ramos to visit Beijing and begin informal talks to resolve the dispute, a Philippine Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.
Philippines Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told reporters in Vientiane that the dispute was not between China and the United States but between China and the Philippines.
“We would like to pursue bilateral relationships in so far as the peaceful resolution of the dispute is concerned that is between the China and the Philippines. The others are not concerned with that dispute,” Yasay told reporters.
Wang, who met Kerry on the sidelines of the ASEAN gathering in Laos, said on Tuesday he would welcome Ramos’ visit.
The Chinese foreign minister also told his US counterpart that China and ASEAN had agreed the dispute should get back on to the “correct” track of being resolved by direct talks with the parties concerned, according to a foreign ministry statement released on Tuesday.
China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stoking tensions in the region through its military patrols, and of taking sides in the dispute, accusations Washington denies.

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