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    Nov 11, 2015

    No plan to talk sea dispute at Apec meet


    CHINA is not aware of any plan to discuss the disputed South China Sea at an Asia-Pacific leaders' summit next week in Manila, a senior Chinese diplomat said yesterday, amid tensions between China and the Philippines over the waters.

    For its part, the Philippines said it had no plan to raise the issue at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Manila from Nov 17 to 19.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to meet Apec's members which include the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Canada, and together account for 57 per cent of global production and 46.5 per cent of world trade.

    "Everyone knows that Apec is primarily about discussing trade and financial cooperation in the Asia-Pacific," Reuters quoted Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Li Baodong as saying.

    "As far as I know, at this year's summit, there are no plans to discuss the South China Sea."

    The Philippines has pledged a warm welcome for Mr Xi in Manila next week, reported Agence France-Presse. President Benigno Aquino and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario made the pledge in rare talks with China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is in Manila on a working visit ahead of the Apec summit.

    "The President mentioned that he welcomed the decision of President Xi Jinping to attend the Apec summit," Aquino spokesman Herminio Coloma told reporters after Mr Wang's courtesy call.

    "He assured the foreign minister that it is in the culture of the Filipinos as hosts to make our guests feel the warmth of Philippine hospitality," Mr Coloma added.

    China has overlapping claims with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei in the South China Sea.

    An Asean summit last week, attended by both the United States and China, failed to produce a final statement because the delegations could not agree on whether to mention the South China Sea dispute.

    China has been particularly angered by a case lodged by the Philippines with an arbitration court in the Netherlands over the South China Sea. China says it will neither recognise nor participate in the case.

    The Chinese minister, who did not speak to the press, visited the Philippines "to ensure that President Xi's visit will be smooth, safe and successful", Filipino Foreign Ministry spokesman Charles Jose told reporters.

    "(Mr Wang) expressed hope that contentious issues will not be raised," Mr Jose said, adding that the Philippine side will not be seeking to discuss the South China Sea because of its pending case before the United Nations.

    "In the context of Apec, we agreed that Apec is an economic forum and it won't be the proper venue to discuss political and security issues," Mr Jose added.