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Duterte assures Vietnam leader: I won’t abandon sea row ruling

SINGAPORE—President Duterte has assured Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc that he will not abandon the Philippines’ victory at the international arbitral tribunal over its dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

The two leaders on Friday held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 32nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders’ summit here.

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‘In due time’

“The President made it clear that he will address the arbitral award in due time,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.

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Roque noted that it was the first time he had heard Mr. Duterte say he would not abandon or set aside the July 2016 arbitral ruling that rejected China’s claim over nearly all of the South China Sea.

It was also the first time the President made such a statement to another head of state.

Vietnam also has been vocal about its opposition to China’s expansion in the South China Sea.

Phuc praises Duterte

He said Mr. Duterte wanted “the totality of the West Philippine Sea settled under the rule of law and … the binding norms of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”

Roque said Phuc praised the President’s position.

Roque said the President, however, made it clear to the Vietnamese leader that this victory was only “a victory for the Philippines because it is only binding to the parties in the arbitration.”

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With this statement from Mr. Duterte, Roque said he hoped that Supreme Court acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and other critics of the President “will now keep quiet.”

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TAGS: ASEAN, Bilateral talks, China, Duterte, Vietnam
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