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Philippines rejects China talks not based on sea feud ruling

MANILA » The Philippines’ top diplomat said Tuesday he has rejected a Chinese government offer to hold talks “outside of and in disregard” of an international tribunal’s ruling last week that debunked Beijing’s claim to ownership of virtually the entire South China Sea.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said he told his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that China’s condition “was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest,” adding Wang warned that if the Philippines insists on China’s compliance to the decision, “we might be headed for a confrontation.”

During talks on the sidelines of last weekend’s Asia-Europe meeting in Mongolia, Yasay said Wang insisted that the Philippines should not even “make any comments” on the landmark decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Wang “asked us also to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside of and in disregard of the arbitral ruling, so this is something that I told him was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest,” Yasay told the ABS-CBN network.

“They said that if you will insist on the ruling and discussing it along those lines, then we might be headed for a confrontation,” he said.

Despite the seeming impasse, Yasay said he was still hopeful both countries can find a way to resolve the long-seething dispute.

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