Friday, June 15, 2012

Philippines seeks Myanmar’s help in Scarborough row

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario (left) and Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin (right) sign the agreed minutes of the 2nd Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation at the DFA Friday. Photo by DFA-PISU

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines seeks Myanmar’s support in its West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute with China as the foreign ministers of the two Southeast Asian countries met on Friday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario on Friday said he hoped that Myanmar would back the “code of conduct” that some Southeast Asian nations had been promoting to prevent conflict in the sea where several of them have conflicting territorial claims.

“We think that a code of conduct should be substantive, and it should be crafted in a way that disputes are moved forward for settlement,” Del Rosario said.

Myanmar Foreign Minister U Wunna Maung Lwin and his delegation arrived in Manila Thursday for the second meeting of the Manila-Yangon Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation.

Del Rosario said he brought up the two-month long standoff in the Scarborough Shoal in his talks with Lwin.

“We discussed the West Philippine Sea issue, the peaceful resolution of the dispute in accordance with international law,” Del Rosario said.

China and Myanmar are close political and economic allies.

Lwin agreed to review the fundamental elements of the code as it pushed for setting disputes peacefully, said Del Rosario.

“Foreign minister Lwin said they are looking at it (the proposed code) and we hope that they will consider it,” he added.

The discussion came as Philippine and Chinese ships maintained their standoff over the Scarborough Shoal, an outcropping in the West Philippine Sea which they both claim.

The dispute began after Chinese government vessels blocked Philippine ships from arresting Chinese fishermen at the shoal in April.

China claims nearly all of the West Philippine Sea, even waters close to the coasts of neighboring countries while the Philippines says the shoal is well within its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. With Agence France-Presse

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