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Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea dispute

14 November 2017

"I'm a very good mediator and arbitrator", Trump said during a news conference with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi before flying to Manila for the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The world is watching the events unfold in China with interest, and speculation over what may happen to them includes everything from a slap on the wrist to 10 years in prison.

"The Philippines will issue a Chairman's Statement for the ASEAN-China Summit to reflect this fact", Bolivar added.

"The South China Sea is better left untouched, nobody can afford to go to war".

The two parties said it "is important that we cooperate to maintain peace, stability, freedom of navigation in and overflight above the SCS, in accordance with worldwide law", including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Duterte has grown closer to China since he took office previous year and Vietnam has emerged as Beijing's main challenger in the area.

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In August, the foreign ministers of the Southeast Asian countries and China adopted a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, although critics see it as a tactic to buy China time to consolidate its power.

The Asean summit opens on Monday under extra-tight security at a theatre and convention complex by Manila Bay.

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The next step is for ASEAN and China to start formal consultations and negotiations for the actual Code of Conduct, and the earliest that talks on this can start is February 2018, the diplomat said.

However no timeframe was announced for an actual code.

We'll update this page with any new developments.

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"I assure you that the relations between the two countries are strong, as always been, no problem for that".

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte discussed the issue with Mr Xi during a meeting in Danang, Vietnam, where they attended the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum last week.

In a speech at the start of the meeting, Li insisted on China's peaceful intentions and said it was the first country to accede to a 1976 nonaggression treaty signed by ASEAN.

"It's our policy to settle disputes in the East Sea through peaceful negotiations and with respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with worldwide law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea", he said, referring to the South China Sea.

The Philippines had for many years stood alongside Vietnam as one of the region's strongest opponents to Chinese expansionism.

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Trump offers to mediate in South China Sea dispute