US backs PH, ASEAN on territorial dispute

The United States has expressed its support for the collective efforts of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to move forward and craft a legally binding Code of Conduct (COC) with China over the disputed South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has reported.

Two US FA-18Es fly in formation with two Sukhoi Su-30s from the Royal Malaysian Air Force above the aircraft carrier USS George Washington during operations on October, 2012. (US Navy photo)

In a statement, the DFA said US senior officials who attended the 26th ASEAN-US Dialogue held in Washington, DC, last May 2 and 3 also reaffirmed support for the arbitration move of the Philippines to settle its territorial conflict with China over the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

But Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing, in a meeting with Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, said the issue should not have been brought to the United Nations for arbitration. Ma was responding to Binay's call for the tensions between the two countries to stop.

In a meeting, the US delegation emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of international law in the West Philippine Sea and opposed the use or threat of force to advance claims in the region.

"US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, as well as Joseph Yun, acting Assistant Secretary for East Asia and head of the US delegation to the ASEAN-US Dialogue, reaffirmed the right of any state to use mechanisms under international law for the peaceful and just settlement of disputes, including arbitration," said the DFA.

Senior officials from all 10 ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat were present during the meeting.

"The Philippines welcomes the support of the US and other countries for our efforts to resolve outstanding issues in the West Philippine Sea through peaceful means and consistent with the rule of law and our obligations under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," the DFA quoted Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Evan P. Garcia as saying in the dialogue.

Garcia said the need for a COC was made more urgent by recent developments in the West Philippine Sea. He stated that despite the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and calls by ASEAN and Dialogue Partners to exercise restraint and avoid any action that will escalate tension, "concerns regarding destabilizing activities remain."

The DFA undersecretary also gave an update on the Philippines' recourse to international arbitration under the UNCLOS, citing that it "is rooted in good global citizenship and will benefit all parties as it will clarify maritime entitlements under UNCLOS."

He added that this "will help assure peace, security, and stability in the region and contribute to its continued economic growth and prosperity."

"The zeal of the Philippines to conclude a Code of Conduct has not changed," Garcia stressed. "This is not inconsistent with our arbitration efforts. In fact, these are mutually supportive of each other as both are deeply rooted in the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of international disputes."

The dialogue was held to deepen ASEAN-US cooperation and discuss regional and international developments.

The meeting, co-chaired by the US and Myanmar, also discussed preparations for the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference with the US and ASEAN-US Leaders' Summit scheduled later this year.

ASEAN-US dialogue relations were established in 1977. Starting with discussions on political and security matters in its early stages, the dialogue has expanded to other issues such as climate change, biodiversity, food and energy security, disaster risk reduction and maritime security.

(With a report from JC Bello Ruiz)

Yahoo News


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  2. Chinese have been playing with fires and provoke wars with virtually all its neighbors. Now asking its neighbors stop tensions? OK, where is the logic to this?

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