Aquino, Obama likely to discuss sea row during US president's visit

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III and United States President Barack Obama are likely to discuss the territorial row between the Philippines and China when the American leader visits the country later this month, a Palace official said Tuesday.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said that defense and security will be a major agenda for discussion between the two leaders.

"And when you talk of this topic, the most relevant issue that can be discussed would be the West Philippine Sea. So, it is entirely within the realm of possibility," he said.

The Philippines and China are engaged in a territorial row over West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), which is claimed almost entirely by Beijing.

Coloma said other issues will also be tackled by the two leaders because what is involved is the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Meanwhile, on the country's claim in the West Philippine Sea, Coloma said the Philippines is looking at other avenues to resolve the issue peacefully apart from bringing the case before an international tribunal.

Part of the administration's thrust is to push for a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), he said.

"We continue to engage our fellow Asean members, both bilaterally and multilaterally, that there must be an Asean centric approach, considering that there is overlapping expanded economic zones in the claims of the various member countries," Coloma said.

"So we just continue our policy of peaceful and diplomatic engagement," he added. (SDR/Sunnex)

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