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Multilateral, not bilateral, talks with China needed – Palace

/ 11:44 AM April 23, 2014

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has said it is banking on multilateral and not bilateral talks to resolve its territorial disputes with China.

The statement came as Chinese and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) senior officials met in Thailand to tackle the implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

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“We have always maintained that the resolution to the South China Sea cannot be just bilateral because you have a number of neighboring countries disputing waters within South China—in the South China Sea, and therefore, the resolution should be multilateral,” Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Tuesday.

While Lacierda did not comment on the meeting, he said “it is with China to act on the Declaration of the Code of Conduct.”

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“We certainly would hope that the Code of Conduct would move forward in order to lay clearly the base or rules on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea,” he said.

The spokesperson said the government’s position has not changed, especially after it filed a case against China before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

“What we wish to emphasize is that we have always abided by a rules-based regime in coming up with a resolution to the South China Sea,” he added.

Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that the back-to-back senior officers’ meeting concluded with the parties agreeing to push forward the China-Asean Maritime Cooperation Partnership. The meeting reportedly tackled the scope of maritime cooperation with the officials reaffirming “the importance of the Asean-China relations as a pillar of regional peace and stability.”

The statement further said that the parties are “committed to achieving better, closer and resilient Asean-China Strategic Partnership through building trust, confidence and mutual respect.”

The report did not say if the territorial disputes between China and Asean member states were discussed.

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TAGS: ASEAN, China, Diplomacy, Edwin Lacierda, Philippines, South China Sea, territorial row, West Philippine Sea
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