Duterte says South China Sea situation has ‘improved considerably’
By Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 14, 2017 at 10:03 pm
Rodrigo Duterte and Xi Jinping - APEC Vietnam - 11 Nov 2017

In this photo, taken Nov. 11, 2017, and released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands as they pose for a photo during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Danang, Vietnam. (Photo by FEI MAOHUA / Xinhua via AP)

President Rodrigo Duterte says the situation in the South China Sea had “improved considerably.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque the President told the East Asia Summit that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China had decided to start negotiations on a code of conduct for the South China Sea.

“On the South China Sea issue, [Duterte] cited that the Asean and China agreed to start discussions on the code of conduct,” Roque said. “He added that the situation in the South China Sea has improved considerably.”

“He said it is important to have a more peaceful resolution for the maintenance of peace, stability, security, and freedom of navigation and overflight in or above the South China Sea,” Roque added.

Roque said the President also expressed grave concern over the situation in the Korean peninsula, saying it could be “a major flashpoint in the region.”

“[He] strongly urged [North Korea] to immediately comply with its obligations and arrive at relevant resolutions,” Roque said. “He also expressed support for initiatives to improve territorial relations to establish permanent and lasting peace in the Korean peninsula.”

He said the President highlighted the issue of maritime cooperation as “a new area of cooperation of the East Asia Summit.”

Roque said Duterte saw the importance of promoting infrastructure development to facilitate trade, investment, and service competitiveness and cited the Philippines’ Build-Build-Build Infrastructure Plan.

“The President stressed the need for cooperation in addressing regional security issues, especially the menace of illegal drugs, terrorism, violent extremism, and human trafficking,” he said.

“He said better collaboration among Asean member states could prevent the Islamic State from gaining foothold in the region,” he added.

Roque said the President also mentioned Asean’s regional economic integration and that economic empowerment was the key driver towards regional growth.

“He said Asean member-states and their partners continue to realize the important potentials of micro, small, and medium enterprises,” Roque said.

He said the President concluded the meeting by expressing his “deepest gratitude to participating states for their active participation in making the Philippines’ chairmanship of Asean a success.”

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