US defense chief calls Philippine counterpart over ruling
Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - July 12, 2016 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary Ash Carter telephoned Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to discuss the scheduled release today of the arbitral court’s ruling on China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea, and they both agreed to consult closely when the ruling is announced, the Pentagon said.

The Philippines has sought a decision from the tribunal on the validity of China’s nine-dash line under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as well as clarification of its maritime entitlements to islands and other geographic features in the South China Sea.

A Pentagon statement on Sunday said Carter congratulated Lorenzana on his new position and invited him to visit Washington early in his tenure to discuss ways to continue to deepen and enhance Philippine-US defense cooperation.

Lorenzana, a retired army major general, is no stranger to Washington and senior US military and government officials.

He served as defense and Armed Forces attaché at the Philippine embassy in Washington from 2002 to 2004 and after his retirement from active duty headed the Veterans Affairs Office at the embassy from 2004 to 2009 and from 2014 until his appointment as defense chief. 

Meanwhile, State Department Counselor Kristie Kenney said the US will continue to raise the issue of China’s reclamation in the South China Sea and seek legal and diplomatic solutions and without resorting to provocative actions.

Kenney, former US ambassador to the Philippines, said the South China Sea dispute should not hinder growth in the region.

“This is no time for anyone to use provocative action. This is a time to use legal, diplomatic solutions,” Kenney said in an interview on ANC’s “Headstart.”

The US, she said, has been concerned about China’s enormous reclamation in disputed waters as discussed by President Barack Obama with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We will continue to raise the issue of China’s reclamation in disputed waters. We believe diplomacy is the way to solve this,” she said. Pia Lee-Brago

 

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