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Palace: Talks with China to be anchored on Hague ruling

President Duterte presiding over the ​first National Security Council meeting during his term on Wednesday. P​PD/Kiwi Bulaclac
MANILA, Philippines — Bilateral talks with China will be anchored on the ruling of the international arbitral tribunal, which had voided Beijing’s expansive territorial claim in the South China Sea.
This was the assurance given by President Rodrigo Duterte during his meeting with visiting United States Secretary of State John Kerry Wednesday in Malacañan, a Cabinet official said.
“The President did mention that whatever talks we will engage in will begin with the ruling, that will be the foundation, the ruling regarding the area,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters in a press briefing.
Early this month, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China’s nine-dash line territorial claim, which covers virtually the entire South China Sea.

READ: Duterte to convene security council after Kerry meet to tackle Hague ruling

The court said China's claims of historic rights over about 90 percent of the busy sea lane has no legal basis.
The tribunal also declared that the Philippines has sovereign rights over the Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal and Recto (Reed) Bank, areas located off the western province of Palawan.
But the court did not award sovereign rights over the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off Zambales. The area was declared a traditional fishing ground for many countries.
China has refused to recognize the ruling, calling it “unlawful since day one.” The US has refused to take sides on the maritime row but has advocated the rule of law in disputed areas.
Asked whether Duterte and Kerry talked about using the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement to implement the international tribunal’s ruling, Abella said: “There was no discussion regarding that. They’re not related.”
Signed in 2014, EDCA seeks to provide the US greater access to Philippine military camps. The signing of the deal is widely viewed as an attempt to counter China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea.
Duterte and Kerry, however, affirmed the relationship between the Philippines and the US, which signed a defense treaty in 1951.
“They also discussed common concerns: terrorism, crime, drugs, religious fanaticism, and maritime security. In relation to this, they also mentioned a menu of solutions,” Abella said without elaborating.

RELATED: Duterte, Kerry discuss climate change, sea row during meeting

There are about four million Filipinos in the US and there are at least 500,000 Americans in the Philippines.

READ: US pledges $32M to Philippine law enforcement

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