Duterte, Abe vow peaceful resolution of South China Sea dispute

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President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe affirmed to pursue a peaceful resolution over the longstanding maritime dispute over the South China Sea.

“The issue of the South China Sea is linked directly to regional peace and stability and is of concern to the entire international community,” Abe said during his joint statement with Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday.

Abe lauded Duterte’s efforts to improve the Philippines’ strained relations with China due to our maritime dispute.

“I welcome the fact that President Duterte is making efforts to improve China-Philippine relations in light of the arbitral award,” he said.

In July 2016, the Philippines won a historic decision by the international arbitral tribunal on the maritime dispute case against China.

Duterte has said he would set aside for now the ruling and would talk to China for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

Abe said mentioned the significance of the rule of law but also cited peaceful resolution of the dispute.

“The significance of the rule of law, peaceful resolution of disputes and non-militarization has been confirmed at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-related meeting last year. Keeping in mind this year’s Asean affiliated meetings, we affirmed the importance of these,” he said.

The Prime Minister vowed that Japan would support the Philippines in its maritime capability.

“Both countries being maritime nations, Japan will enhance support for capacity building in the field of maritime security,” he said.

“We also had a frank exchange of views on the regional landscape and agreed to elevate cooperative relations to a higher level to adress not only bilateral issues but also to work for the resolution of regional challenges,” he added.

Abe arrived in the Philippines on Thursday noon for a two-day official visit. He thanked Duterte for the “heartwarming invitation” to the country. RAM