Del Rosario invites Chinese foreign minister to Manila

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04:03 PM July 4th, 2013

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By: Tarra Quismundo, July 4th, 2013 04:03 PM

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. AP FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario has invited Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to visit Manila for “consultations” as the Philippines wished to defuse tensions over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

In a brief interview Thursday, Del Rosario told reporters that Wang said “he will consider” the invitation.

The two top diplomats  had a “testy exchange” over the dispute at the close of the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations ministers’ meeting in Brunei, where the regional maritime question became a centerpiece issue.

“What might be of interest is I invited the (Chinese) foreign minister to come and visit Manila so that we can have a full and constructive discussion on all issues,” Del Rosario said.

“I indicated to him that perhaps it’s time for him to do this because I have been to Beijing three times since I became foreign minister and all throughout that time, we have had no visits from the Chinese foreign minister,” he added.

Del Rosario did not deny what  happened behind closed doors during Sunday’s tense meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, where he reportedly rebuffed Wang’s speech in which the Chinese official enumerated complaints against the Philippines over the West Philippine Sea.

“I don’t think I should be discussing that but I did not deny what has been reported. As I said, there’s probably no need to add to it,” Del Rosario said.

Details of the meeting, including China’s allegations against the Philippines, have not been revealed but Wang’s remarks came just a day after the People’s Daily, known to be a  mouthpiece of the Chinese communist party, accused the Philippines of “illegal occupation” of the Spratlys and of “internationalizing” the sea dispute.

In a commentary on Saturday, the paper warned the Philippines of a “counterstrike” in the West Philippine Sea, a remark the Philippine government found “provocative.”

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