DFA: ASEAN can still unite on South China Sea issue
Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario remains optimistic that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations can still come up with a united stand on the South China Sea issue. This, despite of its failure to come up with a joint statement after its ministerial meeting in Cambodia last week.
In an exclusive interview with GMA News’ Sandra Aguinaldo, Del Roario said the Philippines is pinning its hopes on the Indonesia-led effort to come up with a statement of principles governing the South China Sea.
“I think that the situation can be improved to a certain extent. I think in large measure, the statement of principles will help in being able to promote solidarity,” Del Rosario said.
He added that he and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa already agreed upon the statement of principles during a meeting in Manila on Wednesday.
Del Rosario likewise said that the statement “will be circulated” to other ASEAN members for approval.
Asked if he thinks Cambodia will be convinced to sign the joint statement, Del Rosario said, “I hope so.”
Last week, the ASEAN failed for the first time to issue a joint communiqué, supposedly due to resistance from Cambodia, which chaired this year’s meeting.
Cambodia’s opposition was said to be prompted by China's influence through its foreign direct investment in Cambodia of $1.2 billion. China is asserting its historical claim on the South China Sea.
The Philippines has been pushing for a multilateral approach to resolving territorial disputes involving the South China Sea. Hence, its desire for a collective stand by ASEAN.
China, on the other hand, considers these matters as bilateral concerns.
Other ASEAN countries that have territorial claims on areas of the South China Sea include Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.
The DFA chief also expressed hopes that China will cooperate in drafting the final code of conduct over the disputed South China Sea. — DVM, GMA News
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