Manila- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday said Washington wants to avoid confrontation in the South China Sea as the International Court of Arbitration (ICC) rejected Beijing’s requests.
Kerry spoke after meeting with Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay to discuss the Philippines’ victory over China before the Permanent Arbitration Court (PAC) over conflicting territorial claims. The PAC based in The Hague this month ruled that China’s claim to most of the strategic waterway was inconsistent with international law. The decision angered Beijing, which vowed to ignore the ruling.
However, Kerry said the United States saw an opportunity for claimants to peacefully resolve the row.
“We hope to see a process that will narrow the geographic scope of the maritime disputes, set standards for behavior in contested areas, lead to mutually acceptable solutions, perhaps even a series of confidence-building steps,” he said.
Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the South China Sea, a vital waterway through which $5 trillion in annual trade passes. It is also believed to sit atop vast reserves of oil and gas.
“President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed a range of issues, including the South China Sea disputes, battling terrorism and personal interests like motorcycles and hunting,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
Ahead the talks, Kerry offered $32 million in aid for law enforcement training, Abella said, adding that Duterte explained his ongoing campaign against illegal drugs.