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Duterte, Xi agree on bilateral talks over South China Sea row

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President Rodrigo Duterte and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping on Thursday agreed to re-open the bilateral talks between the two countries on the issue of territorial dispute over South China Sea.

“The two presidents agreed that China and the Philippines will return to the track of dialogue and consultation to properly handle the South China Sea issue,” Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin told the media through a translator.

The portion of Liu’s briefing was aired by GMA News’ “24 Oras”.

“This in itself signifies a new stage of the maritime cooperation between the two countries. China is ready for discussions with friends in the Philippines on maritime cooperation and cooperation on other areas,” Liu added.

In her report on “24 Oras”, Sandra Aguinaldo she said Duterte and Xi agreed to pursue a bilateral negotiation after holding a 30-minute closed door dialogue followed by another meeting with the government officials of both countries.

Aguinaldo, however, said the issue of the Chinese Coast Guard barring Filipinos from fishing in the Scarborough Shoal was not discussed.

Nonetheless, 13 memoranda of understanding (MOUs) were reportedly signed by both countries, ranging from investment, trade, tourism, agriculture, fisheries, technology to maritime and coast guard cooperation.

“This is a springtime of our relationship and we must move forward,” Duterte said during the MOU signing.

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