Philippines, China to avoid sea disputes at talks

Decision announced after rare high-level meeting between the two countries ahead of APEC summit

Philippines, China to avoid sea disputes at talks

World Bulletin / News Desk

The Philippines and China agreed Tuesday to leave a dispute over the South China Sea out of a planned summit in Manila, following the first meeting between high-level officials from the two countries in three years.

Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Spokesman Charles Jose told reporters Tuesday his country would remain silent on the issue during the Nov. 18-19 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Summit, citing the pending case before a United Nations tribunal.

Manila is using the tribunal to challenge Beijing’s assertion that its ownership of nearly the entire sea is indisputable and historical.

“We agreed that [the meetings] are not the proper venue to discuss that,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Jose as saying.

Foreign ministers of the two countries held a pre-summit meeting Tuesday in Manila -- their first high-level talks since the row over contested features in the sea broke out in 2012.

The APEC meetings will be the final set hosted by the Philippines -- the designated host of the organization's events throughout 2015. 

China has asked that leaders not use the meetings to discuss South China Sea tensions.

DFA spokesman Jose said Tuesday that President Xi Jinping's attendance will be accorded with “warmth and hospitality”.

“We are committed to be a good host to a guest," he added.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea including a cluster of islands, reefs and atolls further south called the Spratlys.

Other claimants are Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and the Philippines. All -- bar Brunei -- have stationed troops in their territories in the vast area, said to be sitting atop huge oil and gas deposits.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 10 Kasım 2015, 14:16