Obama: Arbitral ruling should help clarify South China Sea claims | Global News

Obama: Arbitral ruling should help clarify South China Sea claims

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:06 PM September 08, 2016

VIENTIANE—US President Barack Obama on Thursday said the landmark ruling of an international arbitral court recognizing the Philippines’ ownership of the West Philippine Sea should help “clarify” the contrasting claims over the South China Sea.

“With respect to maritime issues, we’ll continue to work to ensure that disputes are resolved peacefully, including in the South China Sea,” Obama said in his meeting with heads of state from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

The outgoing American leader attended the Asean-US summit, one of the related meetings of the 28th and 29th Asean summits, after his state visit to this Laotian capital.


Obama said the decision issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last July was “binding (and) helped clarify maritime rights in the region.”


“I recognize this raises tensions, but I also look forward to discussing how we can constructively move forward together to lower tensions, and promote diplomacy and regional stability,” he said.

READ: Obama puts South China Sea back on agenda at summit

Obama’s remarks came amid allegations by the Philippine government that China was again engaged in reclamation activities in Panatag Shoal, located well within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, after a flotilla of sea vessels was spotted in the area.

President Duterte, who was in his maiden appearance at the yearly meeting of the regional bloc, had opted not to discuss the ruling during the meeting of Asean leaders.

Instead, the President said Asean member-states should be “on the side of peace” in dealing with their overlapping territorial claims.

In his short opening speech, Obama noted that his attendance at the three-day summit was his eighth meeting with Asean leaders, making him the US president with the most number of visits in Southeast Asia.


“It reflects the growing importance of Asean in this region,” he said. “Asean is key to the US rebalance to Asia and more importantly, it’s key to a peaceful and prosperous future for the world.”

Obama said the United States would continue to enhance its economic cooperation with Asean countries as it promotes the Trans Pacific Partnership trade program.

“As Asean integration generates new opportunities, we will work to promote innovation and entrepreneurship between our countries and throughout the region,” he said./rga


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TAGS: arbitral ruling, Asean Summit, Barack Obama, maritime dispute, South China Sea

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