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PHL will only bring up arbitral win 'at a proper time'

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Philippine Ambassador to China Jose “Chito” Sta. Romana on Wednesday did not confirm whether the Philippines will raise the country's arbitral win in upcoming bilateral talks with China about the maritime dispute.

Sta. Romana told reporters in Beijing that the issue would be raised "at a proper time," echoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

“This is the mechanism that could provide a setting for it. The question is at what point will you bring it up and the president’s instruction is quite clear: at the proper time. We don’t start with the issue that will divide you. We start with the issues that what…if there is a mechanism for discussing it, this is it. At the proper time as the President has said,” he said.

Sta. Romana, the leader of the Philippine delegation, refused to reveal the talking points of the inaugural bilateral dialogue on Friday that would center on finding areas of cooperation.

"As I’ve said, whatever we’re going to present on Friday will be in line with the President’s directive and the President’s directive is very clear: Find a peaceful and diplomatic approach to resolve the issue so as to preserve peace and stability and to further improve bilateral relations and to avoid confrontation, avoid violence that will lead to nobody’s benefit," he said.

"Sometimes you have to give diplomacy a chance and I think the President's friendly position towards China and his independent foreign policy," he added.

The first China-Philippines bilateral consultation mechanism on the South China Sea issue will be held in Guiyang in China's Guizhou province. The Chinese delegation will be led by Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying echoed Sta. Romana's statement that the bilateral consultative mechanism will establish an institutional platform for dialogues on the South China Sea-related issues

"China hopes and believes that the two countries will build up consensus, enhance mutual trust, disperse suspicion, properly manage disputes, and move forward maritime practical cooperation through bilateral dialogues so as to make the conditions more favorable towards the final settlement of the relevant dispute and create a good atmosphere for the sound and steady development of bilateral ties and the smooth progress of practical cooperation in various fields," she said in a briefing on Tuesday.

Senior officials of the ASEAN and China will also hold a meeting before the bilateral talks in the same city for the framework of the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea. —JST, GMA News

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