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主题: Ph can count on US over sea row with China - DFA chief

Ph can count on US over sea row with China - DFA chief 2014-03-16 21:10 #1

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digitaledition.philstar.com/newspaper/showArticle/45407/share/Phl-can-count-on-US-over-sea-row-with-China-DFA-chief/

Phl can count on US over sea row with China – DFA chief
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By Pia Lee-Brago

The United States can be counted on to come to the aid of the Philippines in the event of an armed conflict with China over disputed waters in the West Philippine Sea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said yesterday.

He said the US has consistently professed commitment to its Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the Philippines when reminded of a possible hostile scenario in the West Philippine Sea.

“We asked the US this question and their response is they will honor their obligation under the MDT,” Del Rosario told students and faculty of the De La Salle Santiago Zobel School in Muntinlupa City, during a lecture on “Protecting and Defending the Philippine National Territory.”

“So the presumption is if we are attacked in the territory then we can count on the US to be able to assist us,” he said when asked if the Philippines can expect help from the US if attacked by China.

He told his audience that while the Philippines recognizes China’s economic and military might, it will never deviate from its rules-based approach to settling the territorial issue. Manila is seeking international arbitration to counter China’s claims, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. Beijing has refused to participate in the process.

“We hope to show China that right is what makes it might,” he stressed.

China’s 9-dash line claim encompasses practically the entire West Philippine Sea.

Recently, visiting US Navy chief of naval operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert assured the Philippines of US help in its territorial spat with China. He voiced support for the Philippines’ case as well as his country’s commitment to helping maintain freedom of navigation in the South China and West Philippine Sea.

‘Significant progress’

Meanwhile, Philippine and US panels negotiating for enhanced cooperation between the two countries have reached consensus on key points including on the scope of partnership, definition of terms, security coordination, contracting procedures, and resolution of disputes.

The panels arrived at the consensus during the sixth round of negotiations held on March 4 to 6 in Washington.

The two sides will meet again in Manila late this month to work on remaining issues.

The proposed agreement will define areas within certain Philippine military camps where US military personnel – visiting on a rotational basis – would have access.

The Philippine embassy in the US, quoting from minutes of the 6th round meeting, called the discussions “substantive and productive.” It also cited “significant progress” in the talks.

“This fresh round has clearly shown the shared commitment of both parties to enhance cooperation in defense, security and related fields, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” Defense Undersecretary and chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel Pio Lorenzo Batino said.

“The further exchanges of views have helped pave the way for the formulation of mutually agreeable language,” he said. The fifth round of talks took place on Jan. 30-31.

The embassy said the US panel agreed to the inclusion of provisions on environment and safety, and on opportunities for potential Philippine suppliers of goods, products and services.

Batino said that in negotiating with the US, the Philippine panel has always been guided by the principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, “including the prohibition against nuclear weapons.”

“This fresh round has clearly shown the shared commitment of both parties to enhance cooperation in defense, security and related fields, including humanitarian assistance and disaster response,” Defense Undersecretary and chairman of the Philippine negotiating panel Pio Lorenzo Batino said.

“The further exchanges of views have helped pave the way for the formulation of mutually agreeable language,” he said. The fifth round of talks took place on Jan. 30-31.

The embassy said the US panel agreed to the inclusion of provisions on environment and safety, and on opportunities for potential Philippine suppliers of goods, products and services.

Batino said that in negotiating with the US, the Philippine panel has always been guided by the principles of full respect for Philippine sovereignty, non-permanence of US troops, mutuality of benefits and respect for the Philippine Constitution, “including the prohibition against nuclear weapons.”

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