US avoid­ing con­fronta­tion in sea dis­pute, says Kerry

The Myanmar Times - - World -

UNITED States Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry said yes­ter­day Wash­ing­ton wanted to avoid “con­fronta­tion” in the South China Sea, after an in­ter­na­tional tri­bunal re­jected Bei­jing’s claims to most of the wa­ters.

Mr Kerry made the re­marks after meet­ing with Philip­pine For­eign Sec­re­tary Per­fecto Yasay in Manila where they dis­cussed the South­east Asian na­tion’s sweep­ing vic­tory in the ar­bi­tra­tion case against China.

The US’s top diplo­mat said the United States wanted China and the Philip­pines to en­gage in talks and “con­fi­dence-build­ing mea­sures”.

“The de­ci­sion it­self is a bind­ing de­ci­sion but we’re not try­ing to cre­ate a con­fronta­tion. We are try­ing to cre­ate a so­lu­tion mind­ful of the rights of peo­ple es­tab­lished un­der the law,” Mr Kerry said.

A tri­bunal based in The Hague this month ruled that China’s claim to most of the strate­gic water­way was in­con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional law. The de­ci­sion an­gered Bei­jing, which vowed to ig­nore the rul­ing.

But Mr Kerry said the US saw an “op­por­tu­nity” for claimants to peace­fully re­solve the row.

“We hope to see a process that will nar­row the ge­o­graphic scope of the mar­itime dis­putes, set stan­dards for be­hav­iour in con­tested ar­eas, lead to mu­tu­ally ac­cept­able so­lu­tions, per­haps even a se­ries of con­fi­dence­build­ing steps,” he said.

Viet­nam, Malaysia, Brunei and Tai­wan also have claims to the South China Sea, a vi­tal water­way through which US$5 tril­lion in an­nual trade passes. It is be­lieved to sit on vast oil and gas re­serves.

Mr Kerry, who ar­rived in Manila on July 26 after at­tend­ing a re­gional sum­mit in Laos, met with Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte after Mr Yasay. –

Photo: AFP

John Kerry says China and the Philip­pines should en­gage in talks on the dis­puted South China Sea.

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