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Philippines to send former president to China for talks on South China Sea

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday said he was asking former President Fidel Ramos to help start talks with China over disputes in the South China Sea.

The president, during a testimonial dinner hosted by the San Beda College, reiterated that war was not an option and he wanted to pursue peaceful solutions to the maritime disputes with China like bilateral talks.

He said he would still consult Ramos about it and eventually asked him to "go to China to start the talks."

The announcement came after an arbitral tribunal in The Hague issued an award Tuesday on an arbitration case unilaterally initiated by the Philippines against China regarding their disputes in the South China Sea.

Dismissing the ruling "null and void with no binding force," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it will not accept any proposition or action based on the award.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said China will continue to endeavor to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea with parties directly concerned through negotiation and consultation on the basis of respecting historical facts and in accordance with international law.

Ramos, who was the Philippine president from 1992 to 1998, acknowledged Duterte's decision, but did not say if he would accept the president's request.

Duterte earned his law degree from San Beda while Ramos is an honorary alumus of the San Beda College of Law.

Earlier in the day, Duterte was reportedly ready to start direct talks with China on the South China Sea disputes.

"(Duterte said) we'll start the bilateral talks," Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno told reporters, saying the president made the remarks during a cabinet meeting shortly after the ad hoc tribunal's award on Tuesday.

He added that the president had said the country should avoid "taunting and flaunting" the decision if it favors the Philippines.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II also confirmed that the president during the cabinet meeting mentioned about talking to China.

He said it was mentioned when the cabinet was talking about the different responses and options that the Philippines might do following the award.

[Source: Xinhua, Manila, 14Jul16]

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East China Sea Conflict
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