MANILA — President Benigno S. Aquino III will advance the country’s interest in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when he meets with global leaders and organizations while in the United States on September 20 to 24, a foreign affairs official said during a press briefing at the Palace on Tuesday.
Asked if the President will talk about the West Philippine Sea at the World Leaders Forum in Columbia University, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria said, “That is one of the advocacies that he will be carrying in all his meetings, basically, to say why it is important for the world community to support our endeavor in ensuring that the rule of law is carried specifically in the West Philippine Sea.”
The Philippines is one of several countries laying claim to the West Philippine Sea, an area believed to be rich in mineral and fishery resources and which serves as a major sea lane for global trade and commerce.
The country has filed an arbitration case at the International Arbitral Tribunal, asking China to clarify its claims on the West Philippine Sea.
Asked about the possibility of a meeting between President Aquino and US President Barack Obama, as well as other leaders, Austria said no such meeting has been arranged but it is possible that they meet at the corridors of the United Nations Headquarters.
The practice in the UN is that leaders come and deliver their remarks, she said.
“As of now, there are no arranged meetings. But, of course, there’s always the possibility of chance meetings when they meet each other in the corridors of the UN,” Austria said.