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Duterte Visits China to Try to Heal Old Wounds

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, front, walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Oct. 20, 2016.

China rolled out the red carpet for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping to try and improve years of rocky relations between the two countries.

Xi greeted Duterte Thursday with full military honors at the Great Hall of the People, China’s main legislative building in Beijing.

The two leaders are set to sign several new agreements following discussions Thursday that Xi said are meant to “fully improve” relations between China and the Philippines after disputes to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Earlier this year, an international court ruled in favor of the Philippines in a major arbitration lawsuit regarding the South China Sea territory, and since then Duterte has been trying not to further damage relations with China while at the same time working to secure his country’s territorial claims.

Prior to the initiation of discussions, the often outspoken Duterte said he would not bring up the topic of the disputed territory unless Xi brought it up first, calling it a “courtesy” to his host.

“As a matter of courtesy and in the Oriental way, you always wait,” Duterte said Wednesday. “Because I am a visitor, I can't destroy the goodwill by just blurting out something.”

Xi didn’t specifically mention the South China Sea dispute during the discussions, but he called China and the Philippines brothers and said the two countries could find appropriate resolutions to their disputes.