Philippines, Singapore push for Asean solidarity, centrality in resolving South China Sea rows

by Raul Dancel / April 13, 2016/ straitstimes.com

Asean’s solidarity, unity and centrality are “fundamental as they are vital” in resolving disputes over the South China Sea, the Philippines and Singapore said on Wednesday (April 13).

“The Philippines has complete respect for the Asean process and fully supports Asean centrality in pushing forward our agenda for community building, including enhanced relations with dialogue partners such as China,” the Philippines’ Foreign Minister Rene Almendras said in a statement issued in Manila.

…as a non-claimant state, Singapore’s key interests lie in ensuring that the rule of law prevails over any dispute, preserving freedom of navigation and the unimpeded conduct of commerce in the (South China Sea)”.

Mr Almendras was in Singapore on Tuesday (April 12) and Wednesday (April 13), following a two-day visit to Vietnam.

He called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (April 12), and met with his Singapore counterpart, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, on Wednesday (April 13).

The statement issued by the Philippines’ Foreign Ministry said Mr Almendras and Mr Lee “reiterated that, as a non-claimant state, Singapore’s key interests lie in ensuring that the rule of law prevails over any dispute, preserving freedom of navigation and the unimpeded conduct of commerce in the (South China Sea)”.

Mr Almendras was also quoted as conveying “the appreciation of the Philippines for the leadership role Singapore is ably performing as present coordination for Asean-China Dialogue Relations”.

Singapore took over as coordinator from Thailand last year.

In Hanoi, Mr Almendras also underscored the “vital role that Asean centrality and solidarity play, including the non-claimant states, in coming up with a common position regarding the issue of the (South China Sea)”. Read more…

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