March 22, 2019
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Duterte to overlook territorial disputes with China during ASEAN summit

Manila, Apr 27 (efe-epa).- The president of the Philippines on Thursday promised to overlook a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea during an upcoming Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit.

The heads of states and governments of ASEAN nations are scheduled to meet on Saturday in Manila.

Rodrigo Duterte said he would not mention the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which in July 2016 upheld the Philippines' claim of sovereignty over the Scarborough atoll and dismissed the Chinese claim of historic rights over the area.

"We will skip, I will skip the arbitral ruling. It is not an issue here in the ASEAN," said the president during a televised press conference from the Malacañang Palace, after a meeting with the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, one of the leaders who will take part in the summit.

The Chinese government, which claims most parts of the South China Sea, has until now refused to accept the sentence of the court of arbitrage.

Duterte argued that not much could be done regarding the Chinese rejection of the ruling.

The ASEAN summit is expected to deal with territorial disputes since four members of the bloc - Brunei, the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam - are involved in sovereignty disputes over the Spratly and other islands in the region.

However, according to a draft of the final declaration accessed by EFE, the discussion is not expected to turn belligerent, but instead focus on finding peaceful solutions.

Saturday's summit will bring together leaders from Myanmar, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam in the first of the two summits scheduled for the year.

This year, ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary.

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