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Thursday, June 30, 2016, 18:31

Philippines hopes for 'soft landing' in sea dispute

By Agencies

MANILA - The Philippines hopes for a "soft landing" in a dispute with China over the South China Sea when the arbitration court in The Hague delivers its ruling, the foreign minister said on Thursday, hours after Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president.

The Philippines brought a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China's "excessive" claim to the waters. China had refused to recognise the case, stressing that the tribunal has no jurisdiction because the case is in essence related to territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation. A ruling is expected on July 12.

Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said he had rejected suggestions to issue a strong statement against China if the decision goes Manila's way.

"I am averse to that idea," Perfecto Yasay told Duterte's first Cabinet meeting, saying the government would study the "implications and ramifications" of the decision first.

Duterte said there should be "a soft landing".

"God knows, I really don't want to declare any fighting with anyone," he said

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