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Yasay: Involving ASEAN in South China Sea row counter-productive

In this image taken from video run by China's CCTV via AP Video, the aircraft carrier Liaoning is escorted by navy ships during a drill in the South China Sea. China confirmed that its aircraft carrier has for the first time conducted drills in the South China Sea with a formation of other warships and fighter jets, a move that could raise concerns among its neighbors. CCTV via AP Video

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines, this year's host of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit (ASEAN), will not raise the Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling on the South China Sea dispute.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that the Philippines will raise the matter in future bilateral talks with China and not during the ASEAN Summit.

"This is a battle that we will be raising with China at some future time on bilateral talks and to do and involve others in the discussion of this decision would be counter-productive for our purposes," Yasay said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Yasay, however, noted that other countries with claims against China may use the arbitral tribunal's ruling as a precedent-setting case in pursuing the matter.

The Philippines' top diplomat added that there is "no use" for the country to raise the issue during the ASEAN Summit. He noted that the Philippines will continue to engage in discussions with China to resolve the issue.

"But for our purposes just with respect to the arbitral tribunal, we feel no special purpose or special benefit to raise this," Yasay said.

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Yasay stressed that the decision of the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea is final and binding.

"It is a final and binding decision to the parties. Whatever is said or discussed by anyone outside and third parties to the case will not change the decision," the Foreign Affairs chief said.

The Foreign Affairs chief's statement comes after the agency's announcement that the South China Sea maritime dispute and code of conduct claimants would be among the priority topics during the ASEAN Summit.

The ASEAN, under the Philippines' leadership, will continue to complete the framework of the Code of Conduct of Parties of the South China Sea within the first half of the year.

"We will also work with China and the rest of ASEAN to ensure the effective implementation of and in compliance to confidence building measures," Yasay said.

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