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Duterte wants ‘conversation’ with China

Rodrigo Duterte20160701145159_l

Manila, July 1 (IANS) Newly-installed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants a "conversation" with Beijing on the South China Sea in a bid to work out a "win-win relationship" with the country, a top official said on Friday.

"Basically he’s being friendly towards China. I think it’s an indication on how he wants to handle the relationship, not to be adversarial but to really work out a relationship that will be win-win for both," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in an interview.

"I think the point of the president is… we are not in a position to engage military operations and stuff like that. So, it really makes common sense," he said.

A few hours after taking office as the country’s 16th president on Thursday, Duterte told a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace not to "flaunt" a possibly favourable ruling in a case filed by the Philippines at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Xinhua news agency reported.

The tribunal has said that it would be handing down the ruling on July 12.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Wednesday that the tribunal, "established on the basis of illegal conduct and claims of the Philippines", has no jurisdiction over the case and the relevant subject matter, and should not have heard the case or render any award.

Duterte brought up the issue during the televised meeting.

While the decision on the arbitration case might be favourable to the Philippines, "it would also put the country in an awkward position especially with China (in terms of relations)," Duterte said.

"God knows, I really do not want to declare any fighting with anybody. And if we can have peace by just talking, I would be very happy," he added.

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