PNoy: Malaysia backs peaceful solution to sea dispute

by Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2014 08:39 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2014 04:39 AM

MANILA - Malaysia on Friday renewed its support for a peaceful settlement of the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), President Benigno Aquino said.

"As brothers in ASEAN, our two nations believe that the potential of our nations and of our community to prosper can only be fully realized in an international context where rule of law is upheld," Aquino said in a statement he delivered after his meeting with his Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in Kuala Lumpur.

"The Prime Minister and I agreed on the peaceful settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea and the South China Sea, in accordance with the rule of law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," he added.

The two countries believe that adherence to the rule of law, positive engagement, and sincere dialogue are fundamental in building a prosperous and peaceful Southeast Asia, Aquino said.

The Philippines and Malaysia are claiming parts of the disputed territory.

Other countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) seeking ownership include Vietnam and Brunei. Non-ASEAN claimants are China and Taiwan.

The Philippines has elevated the territorial dispute for international arbitration, saying it is exhausting all diplomatic means to resolve the issue peacefully.

The move encountered strong objection from China.

The US government, a Philippine ally, said it doesn't take sides and added that its main interest is freedom of navigation in the area.

It is pushing for all parties to agree on a binding code of conduct to avoid miscalculations and defuse tension.