US lawmakers express support for Philippines arbitration case vs China

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MANILA -- The Philippines' move to bring its maritime dispute with China before an arbitral tribunal on Tuesday earned the support of members of a United States congressional delegation, which is in the country for a three-day visit.

The delegation, led by Congressman Edward Royce, were briefed by officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on the position taken by the Philippine government following its failed attempt at reaching a diplomatic and political solution to the territorial row with China.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Carlos Sorreta said the Philippine side conveyed to the visiting US congressmen its determination to see the case through, and which should proceed on its own merit, with or without the vote of confidence from its American allies.

"The members of the US congress expressed their very strong support for our efforts to resolve the situation in a peaceful manner and in accordance to the United Nations convention on the laws of the sea (Unclos). There were some discussion on the details of our actions and they were very interested in the merits of our arguments," he said.

Sorreta said the next stop of US congressmen after their Philippine visit was in Beijing where they promised to bring up the matter before authorities there.

Aside from DFA officials, other Cabinet officials were present during the briefing, among them, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.

On the other hand, the US delegation includes Ranking Member Eliot Engel, Congressmen Gregory Meeks, Vern Buchanan, Matthew James "Matt" Salmon, and Thomas Anthony "Tom" Marino.

Aside from regional issues, the two parties likewise discussed bilateral relations between the two countries in terms of defense and trade and investment cooperation. (JCV/Sunnex)

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