Yasay: ASEAN opted for ‘middle ground’ on sea dispute
MANILA—Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said he pushed for mention and inclusion of the landmark arbitral tribunal decision in the joint communiqué of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Foreign Ministers meet held in Vientienne, but members already facing deepening row on sea disputes agreed on a middle ground that deleted portion on the arbitral decision that scrapped China’s nine dash claim.
He said at the start of the Asean Foreign Ministers meet, there was no mention of the arbitral tribunal’s decision rendered on July 12 but the Philippines “had to take the diplomatic tact” of pushing for the inclusion of the arbitration court’s decision.
“Vigorously, I pushed for the inclusion and mentioning of the arbitral award, it’s a diplomatic track that that we had to take,” said Yasay at a press briefing of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday.
The Asean members, four of them — Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia — are claimants to waters of South China Sea. However, they agreed to adopt a joint statement without mention of the arbitral decision.
Yasay stressed that the Philippines respected and would continue to respect positions taken by Asean members.
“They have not taken any stand or side or partiality (on sea disputes). We will respect it,” he said, adding that “the actual resolution of disputes in the South China Sea is a matter for China and the Philippines to resolve.” SFM
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