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SCARBOROUGH ROW

U.S. State Dep’t urges China to exercise restraint


By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Special to Philippines Today
 
WASHINGTON D.C. – A spokesman of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C. urged Monday (April 23) for “continued diplomatic efforts to resolve the current situation near Scarborough Shoal (Panatag Shoal)” standoff between the Philippines and China in the Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea).
In a statement emailed to this reporter, a U.S. State Department staff, who refused to be quoted by name, said, “We urge continued diplomatic efforts to resolve the current situation near Scarborough Shoal.  All parties should continue to exercise restraint and avoid escalatory actions.  As a strategic ally, the United States honors our Mutual Defense Treaty with the Philippines.  We will not engage in discussion of hypothetical scenarios.” 
In a transcript of Monday’s daily briefing, it was disclosed that U.S. State Department Secretary Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be holding the fourth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing on May 3rd and 4th that will discuss a “full range of bilateral issues, regional issues and global issues,” including the disputes in South China Sea (Philippine Western Sea).
When asked by a reporter if the U.S. would “wade into the “South China Sea dispute” as the “Philippines is now seeking international support in the standoff with China,” the spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, said, “Well, I think you know our position on these disputes in the South China Sea. We want to see them resolved through dialogue; we want to see them resolved through consensual means. 
“In general, in all of the most recent meetings that Secretary Clinton has had with Chinese counterparts, whether they were here, whether they were in China, whether they were in multilateral fora, she has reiterated our interest in deepening and broadening mechanisms within ASEAN, within regional fora, and bilaterally for solving these things consensually, not by force, calling for restraint by all sides. That’s where we are on this particular one and where I’m sure we’ll be in Beijing next week.”

CLINTON, PANETTA TO MEET DEL ROSARIO, GAZMIN
Secretary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will also be holding a bilateral meeting on Monday (April 30) in Washington, D.C. with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin ahead of her U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing.
Clinton and Panetta’s meeting with their Philippine counterparts is part of the continuing high-level consultation following the second round of bilateral talks between the two countries last January.
Clinton’s Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy for the United States and Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Erlinda Basilio and Undersecretary of National Defense Pio Lorenzo Batino for the Republic of the Philippines held their second U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue also in Washington, D.C. last Jan. 26 and 27.
The January dialogue among others resolved to reinforce “the significance of our Mutual Defense Treaty as the basis for the alliance and the treaty’s continued relevance to the peace, security, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific. We are committed to further enhance cooperation, including in security, defense, commerce, law enforcement, human rights, and disaster relief.  We agreed to deepen and broaden our maritime security cooperation.” 
 
FULFILL VISION OF MANILA DECLARATION
  During the dialogue, the United States and the Philippines reaffirmed their commitment to fulfill the vision of the Manila Declaration through an invigorated and expanded alliance capable of addressing 21st century challenges. 
“We emphasized the importance of deepening bilateral trade and investment ties to increase prosperity for the people in both countries.  We reviewed our ongoing collaboration in the Partnership for Growth and the Millennium Challenge Corporation. 
“We recognized the efforts being taken by the Philippine government in resolving human rights cases and discussed positive developments in the prosecution of abuses. We emphasized a mutual commitment to these efforts.”
The two sides also announced upcoming opportunities for further high-level engagement, including a visit by Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro to the Philippines last February and a visit to the Philippines by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis in late February to discuss economic issues and the interest of the Philippines in potentially joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Clinton and Panetta’s meeting with Del Rosario and Gazmin are likely to take up the upcoming state visit of Philippine President Noynoy Aquino at the White House in June. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

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