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Philippine President Calls for Talks With China on Disputed Reef

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte poses is greeted by supporters following a wreath-laying ceremony in observance of National Heroes Day Monday, Aug. 29, 2016 at the Heroes Cemetery in suburban Taguig city east of Manila, Philippines.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he will not bring up a ruling by an international tribunal when he sits down with China over their competing claims in the South China Sea.

Duterte made the comment Monday during a speech marking the observance of the Philippine National Heroes' Day in Manila. The president said that doing so could only lead to the suspension of talks between the two governments. He did not, however, rule out bringing up the matter in future talks. "I would one day sit in front of your representative or you and then I will lay bare my position," he said.

Speaking to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, who was present, Duterte urged Beijing to "treat us as your brothers, not your enemies, and take note of the plight of our citizens."

Beijing was angered by last month's decision by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, dismissing China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. A complaint brought by the Philippines in 2013 accused Beijing of violating a United Nations maritime treaty with its aggressive actions on the Scarborough Shoal, a reef located about 225 kilometers off the Philippine coast.

The court ruled China had violated Manila's sovereign rights by interfering with Philippine fishing and oil exploration activities in the area.

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