Amid the word war between Washington and Beijing over the South China Sea maritime dispute, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew to the Philippines and met with the new president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, for the first time.
Kerry arrived in Manila late Tuesday evening to meet the Philippine president and discuss issues concerning the maritime dispute between the Philippines and China. Kerry is the first U.S. cabinet member to pay a visit to Manila under the new administration, Manila-based GMA News reported.
It can be recalled that China and the United States have traded barbs over the issue on South China Sea. The word war between the two super powers intensified when the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague issued a ruling, which virtually favored the Philippines’ case against China.
Before flying to the Philippines, Kerry told reporters in Laos that the U.S. is supportive of the Philippines’ initial inclination to resume bilateral talks with China. Duterte, for his part, said he’s open to possibilities, including holding talks with Chinese neighbors.
Supports Bilateral Talks
“I would encourage President Duterte to engage in dialogue, in negotiations. The foreign minister said the time has come to move away from public tensions and turn the page. And we agree with that… no claimant should be acting in a way that is provocative, no claimant should take steps that wind up raising tensions,” Kerry was quoted as saying by GMA News.
Kerry issued the statement after his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, urged countries to abandon tactics that undermine the region’s peace and stability, to which Kerry agrees, the Manila Times reported.