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Philippines FM says he rejected China's offer for conditional dialogue
[MANILA] The foreign minister of the Philippines said on Tuesday he had turned down a proposal from his Chinese counterpart to start bilateral talks on their South China Sea dispute on the condition that last week's arbitration ruling not be discussed.
"(China's foreign minister) had asked us to open ourselves for bilateral negotiations but outside, or (in) disregard of, the arbitral ruling," Perfecto Yasay said in an interview with ABS-CBN news channel, referring to the ruling from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
"This is something I told him was not consistent with our constitution and our national interest."
Mr Yasay said he met his counterpart on the sidelines of a summit of Asian and European leaders in Mongolia last week.
The first priority for the Philippines, he said, was negotiating the right of its fishermen to return to the Scarborough Shoal and the implementation of all other parts of the ruling would be handled one-by-one.