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Wednesday, July 27, 2016, 15:26

US has no position on competing claims: Kerry

By Xinhua

US has no position on competing claims: Kerry
In this July 25, 2016 photo released by Xinhua News Agency, US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, meets with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-US Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos. (Liu Ailun / Xinhua via AP)

MANILA - The United States does not take a position on the competing sovereignty claims to the land features in the South China Sea, said US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday.

Kerry made the remarks at a joint press conference with Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay, which was held here at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Kerry stressed the importance of turning the page over the South China Sea disputes and initiating negotiations and talks among claimants.

He said that in all his recent meetings in the Lao capital Vientiane, there was a consistent focus expressed by everyone there to turn the page on the past confrontations.

In a separate press conference held earlier the day at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Yasay said it is now time for China and the Philippines to proceed with a diplomatic process.

The "legal basis" will now have to give way to the diplomatic process "that we have to pursue precisely for the peaceful resolution of these disputes," he said.

The former Philippine government, headed by Benigno Aquino III,  unilaterally initiated the South China Sea arbitration against China in 2013.

The move has violated the Philippines' standing agreement with China to settle relevant disputes through bilateral negotiation, violated China's right to choose means of dispute settlement of its own will as a State Party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and abused the UNCLOS dispute settlement procedures.

The ad hoc tribunal issued an award on July 12, siding with Manila's cunningly packaged claims and denying China's long-standing historic rights in the South China Sea.

"The Philippines' territorial claim over part of Nansha Qundao is groundless from the perspectives of either history or international law," the Chinese government said in a white paper issued on July 13.

"The arbitral tribunal established at the Philippines' unilateral request has no jurisdiction over relevant submissions, and awards rendered by it are null and void and have no binding force," reads the document.

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