EU backs peaceful resolution to sea dispute

by Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 29 2014 04:25 PM | Updated as of Jul 30 2014 12:25 AM

MANILA - European Commission (EC) Vice President and European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton encouraged all parties in the South China Sea territorial row to seek peaceful ways and means to resolve the conflict.

In a joint press conference at the Diamond Hotel, Ashton said the claimants should respect international laws, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

"Let me stress that the European Union encourages all parties to seek peaceful solutions through dialogue and cooperation in accordance with international law, in particular with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The European Union is proud to be a party of the treaty of amity and cooperation, and we recall its fundamental principles, namely to settle differences by peaceful means, to renounce the threat or the use of force and to effectively cooperate among parties," she said.

Ashton stopped short of calling on China to participate in the process, saying the EU does not directly interfere in the conflicts of other nations.

She, however, said the EU is there to help seek peaceful ways in resolving the conflict.

Ashton's visit to Manila is the first by an EU high-ranking official. It also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Philippine-EU diplomatic ties.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario will host Ashton’s two-day official visit.

As a claimant country in the South China Sea, the Philippines is committed to looking for peaceful ways to end the conflict, del Rosario said.

He said his discussions with Ashton also covered wide-ranging issues, which include the further expansion of the PH-EU economic cooperation, the Mindanao peace process and regional security.

He also expressed the Philippines’ appreciation for the outpouring of support that EU countries have extended to the Philippines in the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda.