Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and his American counterpart, Michael Pompeo, discussed on Thursday (August 6) Washington’s policy shift in the South China Sea (SCS).
According to a press readout by the State Department, the two top diplomats also talked about America’s support to Southeast Asian states in upholding their sovereign rights and interests in the region, including a possible US-Philippine maritime cooperation.
The telephone conversation comes after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on August 3 revealed that Manila is not joining any naval drills in the South China Sea except within its national waters.
Although Manila is sitting out from the exercises, Locsin underscored that Manila’s position remains clear: “What is ours is ours under the Arbitral Award and no one else can tell us different.”
“We’re sitting out this one, we don’t know if there we will (be in) the next one,” he said in his tweet.
Vietnam and the Philippines, along with some member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have been contesting the claims of the South China Sea with China, which asserts a large portion of the waters with its invisible demarcation called the nine-dash line.
As Beijing and ASEAN work to conclude a code of conduct in the region, Chinese Ambassador in Manila Huang Xilian said Washington as an “outsider” should respect the efforts being made to maintain peace in the region.
“When you talk about the US as (an) outsider, we expect outsiders to respect the efforts of the regional countries in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea,” he said in a CNN Philippines interview on Friday.
“It’s a regret that we have seen the US meddling vigorously in the South China Sea issue,” he added. (PNA)