US Encouraged to See Direct Dialogue on Maritime Disputes


The U.S. says it is encouraged by the willingness of China and the Philippines to engage in direct dialogue over the South China Sea following a tribunal ruling against Beijing earlier this month.

In Manila Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with senior Philippine officials, including new Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. It was the first meeting between the two leaders after The Hague ruling which China objects to.

At a joint press conference with Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Kerry said the U.S. encourages all parties, including the Chinese and the Philippines “to negotiate, to work through this diplomatically, bilaterally, multilaterally, [and] build up confidence building measures.”

The top U.S. diplomat said China indicated its willingness and readiness to engage in bilateral negotiation with the Philippines on Tuesday, a day after Kerry met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

While it is seen by some as a deviation from the U.S. position, a senior State Department official said Washington has never opposed direct talks between Beijing and Manila and a bilateral talk has always been an option.

That official stressed what the U.S. opposes is using a direct negotiation between claimants as a pre-condition.