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Phl hosting 4-party talks on sea row

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - At the initiative of the Philippines, four claimants to territories in the West Philippine Sea will meet in Manila on Dec. 12 to explore how the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can resolve the dispute among members.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday President Aquino had pushed the vice ministerial level talks among Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

“We did move forward an initiative when we said that we will endeavor to get the claimant states together and see how we could have a discussion in terms of how to address the issue,” he said.

“And I am happy to say that we have been successful in doing that. So there will be a beginning of four-party talks in Manila starting Dec. 12.”

Speaking to reporters, Del Rosario said the Philippines has been doing its best to keep the discussion within ASEAN and recommended the meeting as early as last year.

“But a good scenario is whether we can on a multilateral basis among the four of us discuss issues that confront the four claimants,” he said.

“If we can, for example, discuss the limitations and solutions to areas where we have disputes with each other, that certainly would be a good result of that initiative.”

Del Rosario said Aquino called on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to withdraw their three vessels from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal during the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

“The President called on our northern neighbor to respect our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) and withdraw their vessels which remain in Bajo de Masinloc,” he said.

“In accordance with UNCLOS and the DOC, the President called on all parties to respect the EEZ and continental shelf of all coastal states irrespective of their size or naval power.”

During the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Phnom Penh, Aquino raised his hand and interrupted a concluding speech of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to clarify that the Philippines disagreed with what was supposed to be a joint regional statement on relations with China.

Hun Sen acknowledged Aquino’s statement, which effectively meant that ASEAN again failed to reach a consensus on maritime territorial disputes with China.

With Aurea Calica

AQUINO ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS CAMBODIAN PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN CHINESE PREMIER WEN JIABAO DEL ROSARIO DURING THE ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS EAST ASIA SUMMIT FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERT HUN SEN PHNOM PENH PRESIDENT AQUINO
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