Wednesday, July 27, 2016

ASEAN joint statement a "victory" despite no mention of sea row ruling -- Yasay

From the Philippine News Agency (Jul 27): ASEAN joint statement a "victory" despite no mention of sea row ruling -- Yasay

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Perfecto Yasay on Wednesday said the joint statement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a “victory” for the bloc as it upholds the importance of international law despite the non-inclusion of the international court ruling on the South China Sea row in their statement.

In a press conference, Yasay said he “vigorously” pushed for reference to the arbitral award in the joint statement, but said he was already “happy” with the joint communiqué citing the bloc’s commitment in pursuing a peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.

Foreign ministers from the ASEAN-member states gathered for the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM) in Laos, Vientiane held from Sunday to Monday.

“The ASEAN has not taken any sides with regards to this case. ASEAN recognized and respected the legal processes we went through in filing the case,” Yasay said.

The DFA Chief stressed that the case filed before the arbitral tribunal only concerns China and the Philippines.

“Resolving the dispute within the context of international law of UNCLOS is a matter for China and the Philippines alone,” he said.

He also dispelled reports asserting that China came out victorious after the Philippines reportedly withdrew a proposal to include the historic arbitration ruling in the bloc’s statement.

“I am just saying this to dispel the reports that have been said that China came out victorious in the ASEAN meeting because we precisely agreed to not mentioning the arbitral award,” he said.

Yasay also acknowledged the designation of former President Fidel V. Ramos to engage China in bilateral talks, saying that the matter must be pursued immediately.

“We would hope that this would be pursued as soon as possible and we are hoping that China will come up with a position that would allow these bilateral talks to proceed,” he said.

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