Locsin, Pompeo hold talks on South China Sea

United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday held talks with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on the South China Sea.

Both parties also reaffirmed the "strong alliance" of the US and Philippines amid heightened tension in the diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing.

In a readout of his call to Locsin, the US State Department’s Principal Deputy Spokesperson Cale Brown said the two discussed "the recent change in US policy on maritime claims in the South China Sea and US support for Southeast Asian coastal states upholding their sovereign rights and interests consistent with international law."

Pompeo also talked about "opportunities for further US-Philippine maritime cooperation" despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to disallow the country’s participation in any maritime drills in the South China Sea.

“The two secretaries also discussed the strong economic, security, and people-to-people ties that bind our two countries," Brown said in a statement released by the US State Department.

Pompeo’s call came after the US last month rejected China’s massive territorial claim over the South China Sea under its nine-dash line policy and instead backed Southeast Asian nations locked in territorial disputes with Beijing.

The US vowed not to allow the Asian superpower to rule and control the resource-rich waters.

Australia also disagreed with China’s claims over the South China Sea and supported the 2016 ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands that invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line and upheld the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.

China, which considers the sea disputes a purely Asian issue, is opposed to any foreign intervention, particularly the US.

While Washington is not a party to the disputes, it has declared that it is in its national interest to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight in the contested waters where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan, and China have overlapping claims.

During his 5th State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was inutile and cannot risk waging war over the South China Sea dispute, adding that China was already "in possession of the property."

Topics: Michael Pompeo , Teodoro Locsin Jr. , South China Sea , Cale Brown
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