Duterte tells Obama he is open to bilateral talks with China
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - May 18, 2016 - 8:46pm
DAVAO CITY – Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte has informed US President Barack Obama that he is open to holding bilateral talks with China on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) row if current attempts to resolve the issue do not succeed.  
Duterte issued the statement during a phone conversation Wednesday morning with Obama, who congratulated him for winning the presidential race.
"I assured him (Obama) that we will continue with our mutual interests and that we are allied with the western (world) in this issue on (the South) China Sea. But I gave him an inkling that, well, I would agree to just go with you," he told GMA News.
"But if it goes on still waters, I said, there's no wind to move the sail, I might opt to go bilateral," he added.
Duterte said Obama advised him to wait for the result of the arbitration.
Duterte’s stance go against the Aquino administration’s policy of settling the territorial dispute only through the international arbitral tribunal.
China claims about 90 percent of resource-rich South China Sea while the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Taiwan have overlapping claims.
China said it has “historical rights” over the area but the Philippines and other countries insist that territorial claims should be in line with international law.
In 2013, the Philippines questioned the legality of China’s territorial claim before the international arbitral tribunal, calling it “exaggerated” and “excessive.” China, however, refused to participate in the proceedings and maintained that it has “indisputable sovereignty” over the disputed areas.
The US has repeatedly said that it would not side with any claimant in the dispute but called on all parties to resolve their differences through the international law.
Last October, the Philippines won a legal victory after an arbitration court in The Hague ruled that it has jurisdiction over the case it filed against China. The next hearings will focus on the merits of the Philippines’s case.

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