US Secretary of State John Kerry says Washington wants to avoid confrontation in South China Sea

July 27, 2016 1:00 pm

Secretary of State
gestures during a joint press conference with his Philippine counterpart
at the Department of Foreign Affairs building in Manila on July 27,
2016. (AFP photo)

US Secretary of State John
Kerry has said Washington wanted to avoid “confrontation” in the
disputed South Sea and help resolve the issue peacefully.

Kerry made the remarks in Manila, the Philippines, on Wednesday after meeting his Philippine counterpart Perfecto Yasay.
The
top dipomats discussed Manila’s sweeping victory in the arbitration
case against China earlier this month, when a tribunal in The Hague
dismissed as illegal Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea that
channels more than $5 trillion in global trade each year.
However,
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) refused on Monday to
fulfill a demand by the Philippines to mention the ruling in their
final statement.
Kerry said that the US wanted Beijing and Manila 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,” he added.
“We hope to see a
process that will narrow the geographic scope of the maritime disputes,
set standards for behavior in contested areas, lead to mutually
acceptable solutions, perhaps even a series of confidence-building
steps,” he said.
Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea,
which is also claimed in part by Taiwan, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia and
the Philippines. The contested waters are rich in oil and gas.
The
sea has been a source of tension between China, the US, and some other
regional countries, which seek control of trade routes and mineral
deposits there.

In
this March 30, 2016 US Navy handout photo, the guided missile destroyer
USS William P. Lawrence transits the Philippine Sea. (AFP photo)On
Tuesday, the chief of US Naval operations, Adm. Mark Richardson, said
the US Navy would continue its operations in the South China Sea.
The
Obama administration has made it “absolutely clear” to China that the
US will continue engaging in flights and naval activities in the
disputed waters in spite of Beijing’s objections, Richardson said.

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