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Kerry Echoes Wang Yi in Meetings in Manila—Bilateral Talks, Turn a New Page

July 27, 2016 (EIRNS)—At a joint press conference with Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay in Manila, Secretary of State John 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."

Kerry referred to Wang Yi’s statement during their meeting in Laos this week, in which he had said that it was time to turn to a "new page" in the approach to the South China Sea, since every ASEAN nation had signed on to the communique calling for only those nations who are party to the dispute to negotiate solutions — a direct reference to the interference by the US and to the ruling of the Arbitration Court in the Hague.

The South China Morning Post wrote about Kery’s comments: "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 [that] what the U.S. opposes is using a direct negotiation between claimants as a pre-condition" — a rather weak effort to cover for Obama’s belligerent position.

Kerry added:

"Hopefully this can become a moment that we can all take advantage of, where we work out some of the modalities of how do you deal with the fishing? How do you deal with natural resources? How do you deal with the free movement of vessels and protect the rights of everybody?"

Kerry said on Tuesday that China had indicated its willingness and readiness to engage in bilateral negotiation with the Philippines, a day after Kerry had met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Philippine former senator Kit Tatad said in his column in the Manila Times Tuesday, that he had spoken to former President Fidel Ramos, whom President Duterte has called on to travel to China for negotiations, and that he said he was ready to go.

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