US, PH to hold strategic talks amid tensions in disputed sea

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AFP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines and the United States will be holding strategic bilateral talks on defense and the rule of law amid heightened tensions in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

In a press briefing for reporters, Carlos Soreta, Assistant Secretary for the Office of American Affairs, said that the third Bilateral Strategic Dialogue—to be held Dec. 11 to 12—would tackle the subjects of defense; economics and trade; rule of law; and regional and global issues.
Soreta said the talks would be chaired by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio, whom President Benigno Aquino III had earlier delegated as the country’s new Ambassador to China, and National Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino for the Philippine government; and State Department Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Defense Assistant Secretary Mark Lippert for the US.

When asked whether the talks would center around the issue of disputes involving the West Philippine Sea, Soreta said, “It’s very hard to disassociate this meeting with what’s happening in the West Philippine Sea.”

The disputes among claimant countries have heightened in recent weeks, with a report of China’s plan to board and seize ships that enter what it claims to be its territory in the disputed sea.

China claims nearly the entire sea, while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan claim parts of the area, believed to be the site of oil and gas deposits.

China’s purported plan came days after it issued new passports bearing a map showing China’s nine-dash claims in the West Philippine Sea. Both the Philippines and Vietnam have refused to stamp the Chinese e-passports in protest of China’s claims, and have also sought China’s clarification on its new maritime patrol rules.

The United States, whose military is “pivoting” to Asia after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is also seeking clarification of the new rules.

Soreta explained that the foremost agenda for defense was the increased rotational presence of American troops in the country. He clarified, however, that discussions for now concentrated on “more presence and activities in areas that are agreed upon by both parties.”

“Working groups will be discussing strategic guidelines on how this increased rotational presence could enhance the humanitarian and disaster relief dimension of our activities,” Soreta said.

Soreta stressed that the country was thankful to the US for its commitment to contribute to the peace and stability in the region, the rule of law and the strength of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“But for our part, we believe the increased rotational presence helps give us the diplomatic space of which to work some of our legal and political strategies… it gives us some strategic breathing space to engage other parties in trying to help solve our problem,” Soreta said.

Soreta said that the Philippines and US shared deep values and that given that, “we feel that the US would be more prone to promote peace, to promote rule of law than what others might say is to promote their own interests.”

He also emphasized that the said talks, as part of diplomacy, should not be a cause for alarm for any region.

Manila has consistently called for a peaceful resolution to the dispute according to international law, but China has insisted that disputes should be dealt with using bilateral negotiations.

Soreta said the Philippines seeks the settlement of disputes through the rule of law, and that he believed the US was the appropriate country to talk about this.

He said that it was clear that the United States was engaged in the region, and that it sent the right signal that states must behave in a reasonable way and in a lawful way.

He said that he believed that improving the country’s relations with the US “puts us in a better position,” but that with or without the US, the Philippines would maintain its stand and claims to the West Philippine Sea.

“The last thing we want to do is for the conflict to heat up but the price of that is not us giving up on our claim there,” Soreta said.

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  • opinyonlangpo

    Typical Filipino, big mouth but has to depend on big brother. A piece of advice, don’t count on it when the going gets tough and just remember the hero comes only at the end when so much death and destruction were already inflicted, just like in the movies. Take what is being offered specially if it is free but always leave the choice to yourselves. Still better if peace, friendship and harmony is attained without a bullet fired.   

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    THE CHINESE TROLLS AND PROPAGANDISTS ARE BRAGGING THAT CHINA BOUGHT AIG. THAT IS A FLAT LIE.

    A Chinese group agreed to buy 80.1 percent of American International Group Inc. (AIG)’s plane-leasing unit for $4.23 billion in the nation’s largest acquisition of a U.S. company.

    ITS ONLY AIG’S PLANE LEASING UNIT THAT WAS BOUGHT BY CHINA. THE PLANE LEASING UNIT IS LOOSING MONEY AND ITS ON THE VERGE OF BANKRUPTCY.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    ITS ONLY AIG’S PLANE LEASING UNIT THAT WAS BOUGHT BY CHINA. THE PLANE LEASING UNIT IS LOOSING MONEY AND ITS THE VERGE OF BANKRUPTCY.

    THIS IS NOT A WISE INVESTMENT STRATEGY.

    • PurpleDaisy13

      According to NewYork Times:

      “The transaction is yet another asset sale by A.I.G. as it continues to
      sell off nonessential businesses, largely to help pay back its
      taxpayer-financed rescue. “

      “The International Lease Finance Corporation, or I.L.F.C. as the division
      is commonly known, is one of the biggest in the world and has long been
      regarded as one of A.I.G.’s crown jewels. The nearly 40-year-old
      company claims as customers over 200 airlines in 80 countries. It owned
      about 918 planes in its fleet as of Nov. 15, according to a securities
      filing, and has commitments to buy 229 new fuel-efficient aircraft.”

      Not only did China make a wise investment but China has A LOT MONEY.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    ITS TIME FOR THE UNGRATEFUL VIETNAMESE TO TEACH RED CHINA A LESSON, JUST LIKE WHAT SHE DID IN THE BORDER WAR IN THE LATE 70S IN WHICH CHINA WAS HUMILIATED

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    THERE IS A WAR GOING ON IN CHINA RIGHT NOW. IT’S BETWEEN THE REMNANTS OF CHAIRMAN MAO AND THE LOYALISTS OF DENG. THE WAR IS WITHIN. THIS WAR COULD END UP IN A BLOODY CIVIL WAR. THE INEVITABLE IS COMING. CHINA WILL DISINTEGRATE INTO PIECES, JUST LIKE THE USSR. PROC WAS CONCEIVED ON LIES, DECEPTION, DESTRUCTION AND DEATH. MARK MY WORDS. HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF.

  • truth_will_set_us_free

    In the wake of the revulsion at China’s acceleration of its land-grabbing in the South China Sea, an ad hoc security alliance is emerging among Japan and the Asean claimants, including the Philippines and Vietnam, to block China’s assertive interventions through diplomacy or possibly by other means. China’s moves have compelled these states to close ranks.

  • obionekenobi

    CHINA LUMAMBOT makikipag usap kasi sa PINAS ANG US… China’s Achilles Heel is US.

  • obionekenobi

    CHINESE MONKEY”S GREED is destabilizing the  region.. His two face approach and mascrade is already known… If they are talking to Japan about SENKAKU (Daoutai islands)  they are using UNCLOS.. when they are coercing the Philippines and other Claimant countries they will not use UNCLOS but instead bilateral talks…and not multi lateral… DOBLE KARA ANG MGA UNGGOY NA ITO. wag pauto.

  • obionekenobi

    I encouage all of us Pinoy SocMeduser to expose this issue in various forums,  international news oufit website so that the international community will be informed and create an international pressure of condemnation of chinese action which is destabilizing the peace in the West Philippine Sea. We can hurt China’s economy by simple looking on the products we are buying…. NEVER BUY LOW QUALITY CHINESE PRODUCTs — THEY ARE MODERN DAY PIRATES and PROMOTER of Unfair Trade Practices… Punta kayo sa SM o sa Tiange.. at makikita nyo ang sinasabi ko.. Paminsan minsan kahit mahal ang pinoy products let us patronize them.

  • joboni96

    obiokenobi
    isa ka pang kolonisadong utak
    cia call center agent

    stuck in the old world of
    red commie as the bogeyman
    ni lansdale

    mamaya nyan
    pati manananggal isali na rin

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