MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday said President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that the issue on the West Philippine Sea can be managed through bilateral negotiations.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte raised the issue of the West Philippine Sea, particularly the situation on Pag-asa Island during his bilateral meeting with Xi.
“Both agree that the situation can be managed by the mechanism of bilateral negotiations but it should not affect the cooperation being undertaken by both the Philippines and China and they look forward to a productive discussion on matters of mutual concern and interests,” Panelo said.
Panelo said Xi spoke of the importance of good neighborliness and proper handling of differences between the countries.
“While the Chinese leader acknowledged the inevitable of having challenges to the bilateral relations, he placed importance on the mutual trust that exists between the two nations in order to resolve the same,” he said.
Panelo said Xi cited the Memorandum of Understanding on Oil and Gas as an example, when both Manila and Beijing suspended their differences for a joint exploration that would mutually benefit both countries and their peoples.
He added that Duterte articulated to Xi his position that the Philippines remains China’s ally in Southeast Asia.
Duterte said “both countries are allies, and allies strengthen—and do not destroy – each other”, according to Panelo.
Duterte is in China from April 25 to 27 for the Belt and Road Initiative forum.
The President is with other world leaders and heads of international organizations in the forum “to discuss, among others, how to boost connectivity, further strengthen policy synergy and build closer partnerships, and promote green and sustainable development.” (PNA)