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China, Vietnam leaders reach South China Sea 'consensus'
15 November 2017, 12:51 | Darnell Patrick
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I am a very good mediator, " the deal-making American leader told Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang during an official state visit.
Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims in the sea, and the dispute has always been seen as a potential trigger for conflict in Asia.
President Duterte had, on Sunday, said the territorial dispute was "better left untouched", in his speech at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. "I mean we have only four Asean countries who are claimants -Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia", Manila Times quoted Minh, as saying.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sealed the accord with the ASEAN leaders in Manila, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.
Trump was in Manila on Monday for meetings with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and several other countries.
Trump acknowledged that China's position on the South China Sea was a problem.
China in recent years has built artificial islands and increased its militarisation in the waters, drawing criticism from Washington, which argues that the United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano did not directly answer when asked about Trump's offer.
Chinese President Xi Jinping sought to allay concerns over Beijing's military buildup and the prospects of war in the South China Sea's contested waters.
In a joint statement, Asean and China agreed to "intensify cooperation and assistance to combat corruption", as part of efforts to enhance regional cooperation under the Asean-China Strategic Partnership.
China has dismissed that ruling as a "sham" and did not participate in the arbitration case that the Philippines filed during the administration of Duterte's predecessor.
President Rodrigo Duterte, this year's chairperson of Asean, was confident that the Southeast Asian leaders' meeting with China would pave the way for a "strategic parternship" between them.
The President has spent the last 12 days touring Asia. "They will not talk about it", Duterte said of China.
The long-simmering disputes are one issue where the two major powers' influence, focus and military might have been gauged, with the USA and China both calling for a peaceful resolution but taking contrasting positions in most other aspects of the conflict. I have done plenty of it from both sides. So we welcome that offer, let's see how everyone's response. He has refused to immediately take up with China a ruling by a United Nations -linked tribunal that invalidated Beijing's sprawling claims in the South China Sea, sparking criticism from nationalists and left-wing groups that wanted him to demand Chinese compliance with the landmark decision immediately.
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Duterte says there are three million drug addicts in the Philippines, and he'd like them all dead. Human rights groups believe the victim total is far higher, perhaps closer to 9,000.