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The Philippines urges China to 'engage in friendly initiatives' to settle territorial disputes

Published on Jun 10, 2014 9:17 PM
A Filipino naval officer (second from left) being greeted by Vietnamese naval officers upon his arrival on the Vietnam-held Song Tu Tay or South-west Cay island of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on June 8, 2014. Vietnamese and Philippine troops got together on a disputed island in the South China Sea on Sunday to play soccer and volleyball - as well as drink beer - in a display of unity that will not go unnoticed in Beijing. Philippine naval officials billed the event on the Vietnamese-held island as a chance to show the world there can be harmony in the South China Sea despite a web of overlapping claims to the potentially energy-rich waters. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA - The Philippines struck a conciliatory tone on Tuesday, as it urged China to "engage in friendly initiatives" to settle disputes it has with its neighbours over territories in the South China Sea.

"The dispute that we do have in the sea that borders our respective lands should not be the sum total of our relationships," Philippine President Benigno Aquino said in a speech before members of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industries marking the 13th "Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day".

He added: "Our relationships are based on so many more things, not just on this dispute, and that peace and stability are necessary components for our own - for everybody's - progress."

Echoing a statement delivered during the same event by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua, Mr Aquino said the territorial rows now flaring between Manila and Beijing are "temporary difficulties" that could be resolved through negotiations.

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