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Philippines hopeful of peace in Spratlys

Aerial photo of the Philippine occupied Kalayaan island in the contested Spratlys group of islands. INQUIRER/Ernie U. Sarmiento

MANILA, Philippines—A Malacañang spokeswoman said Saturday the government hoped the  renewed commitment by the Philippines and China to work with each other peacefully would lead to stability in the region.

“We’re hopeful it will ease tensions. If an issue is sensitive enough as it is, we are hoping that the tensions will decrease so that we can talk on how to maintain peace and stability in that region,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over the state-run radio station dzRB.

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Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met in Beijing on Friday and issued a joint statement that committed the Philippines and China to not allow the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) get in the way of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides also committed to respect and abide by the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which Manila refers to as the West Philippine Sea.

“That is certainly a good development,” Valte said.

“It echoes our real position that despite a dispute over the Kalayaan group of islands, all claimants are committed to have a beautiful solution and to work it out diplomatically. What’s important is there should be peace and stability in the region,” she added.

Asked if the positive developments in the meeting between Del Rosario and Yang would pave the way for President Benigno Aquino’s visit to China, Valte said: “The details are still being worked out and that is always advised to us by the DFA. Details are still being threshed out as we speak.”

The Philippines and China, along with several other countries, claim all or parts of the Spratly Islands in the West Philippine Sea.

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TAGS: China, Conflict, Diplomacy, Foreign affairs, Peace, Philippines, South China Sea, Spratly Island, Spratlys, West Philippine Sea
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