Trump offer to mediate in South China Sea row ‘kind, generous’

BY ADRIAN STEWART CO

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

MANILA – United States President Donald Trump offered to mediate in the South China Sea dispute, according to the Foreign Affairs department.

It was a “very kind, generous offer,” Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told a news conference Sunday night.

“We thank him for it. It’s a very kind, generous offer because he is a good mediator. He is a master of the art of the deal,” said Cayetano. “However, the claimant countries have to answer as a group with regard to Trump’s offer.”

Countries with claims over South China Sea – particularly the Philippines and China – were currently moving toward the creation of a code of conduct, Cayetano noted.

Duterte discussed with Chinese President Xi Jinping the possible creation of a code of conduct, including the preservation of marine life, giving fishermen access, and having less navy officers and more coastguards in the disputed waters.

“I do not want to speak for ASEAN at this point because for me to speak, we need a consensus,” said Cayetano. “Our negotiations, our arguments are going very well on a bilateral matter and we will continue with China.”

Trump made the offer during his bilateral meeting with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, where he said he was a “very good mediator and a very good arbitrator.”

Aside from the Philippines, Vietnam was one of the major claimants in South China Sea.

China claims almost the entire area through its “nine-dash line,” a claim that the United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated in July last year./PN