Big step forward

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The signing of an agreement between China and the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a framework for a Code of Conduct in the disputed South China Sea is a big step forward in the common effort to ease tension in the strategic waterway.

The agreement on the framework, we must emphasize, merely lays the groundwork towards managing disputes through dialogue and consultation, as well as enhancing cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea. It is not the Code of Conduct itself.

The Philippines and China today also began bilateral talks to thresh out issues related to the South China Sea. We are optimistic that with sincerity and good faith on the part of both parties and by building upon shared goals, we can find a lasting solution to our territorial dispute.

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