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Vietnam says it's ready to hold talks with Philippines on overlapping continental shelf claims

News

Vietnam says it's ready to hold talks with Philippines on overlapping continental shelf claims
News

News

Vietnam says it's ready to hold talks with Philippines on overlapping continental shelf claims

2024-06-21 18:14 Last Updated At:18:20

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam is ready to hold talks with the Philippines to settle their overlapping claims to the undersea continental shelf in the South China Sea, official Vietnamese media said Friday, in a diplomatic approach that contrasts with China’s increasingly assertive actions to fortify its claims in the contested waters.

The Philippine government said over the weekend that it has asked a United Nations body to formally recognize its right to the undersea continental seabed extending from its western coast outward to the South China Sea, a region that covers the hotly contested Spratly group of islands, islets and reefs. If granted, that would give Manila the exclusive right to exploit undersea resources there.

The undersea continental shelf claimed by the Philippines could overlap with those claimed by other coastal states such as Vietnam, which lies across the strategic seaway. Philippine officials expressed their readiness to hold talks to resolve such issues based on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the international treaty that provides legal guidelines to define coastal states’ territorial waters.

Under the convention, a coastal state has the exclusive right to exploit resources in its continental shelf, a stretch of seabed that can extend up to 350 nautical miles (648 kilometers), including the right to authorize and regulate any kind of drilling.

Vietnam “stays ready to discuss with the Philippines to seek and achieve a solution that is mutually beneficial for both countries,” Vietnam Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said in Hanoi on Thursday, according to the official Vietnam News Agency.

She said coastal states have the right to have their continental shelf boundaries recognized under the U.N. convention, but need to respect the legal and legitimate rights and interests of other nations.

The Philippine government submitted information to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf on the extent of its undersea shelf in the South China Sea, off its western Palawan province, after more than a decade and a half of scientific research, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said.

The Philippines' permanent representative to the U.N., Antonio Lagdameo, said the move “can reinvigorate efforts of states to demonstrate their readiness to pursue UNCLOS processes in the determination of maritime entitlements and promote a rules-based international order."

The positions taken by the Philippines and Vietnam reject China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea based on historical grounds. Aside from the three, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the waters, a key global trade route.

Indonesia has also confronted Chinese coast guard and fishing fleets in the gas-rich Natuna waters on the fringes of the South China Sea. Indonesia in the past has opened fire and blown up Chinese fishing boats in its custody and arrested Chinese fishermen to assert its sovereign rights, sparking protests from Beijing.

Hostilities and tensions in the disputed waters have escalated alarmingly, particularly between China and the Philippines, at two disputed shoals since last year. Chinese coast guard ships and suspected militia vessels have used powerful water cannons and dangerous blocking maneuvers against Philippine coast guard ships and navy boats, injuring Filipino navy personnel, damaging supply boats and straining diplomatic relations.

After a tense standoff between Philippine and Chinese ships near a shoal in 2012, the Philippines brought its disputes with China to international arbitration. The arbitration panel invalidated China’s claim to virtually the entire South China Sea in a 2016 ruling. Beijing refused to participate in the arbitration, rejected the decision and continues to defy it.

Gomez reported from Manila, Philippines. Associated Press journalist Hau Dinh contributed to this report.

FILE - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., left, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, right, look on as the Philippine Coastguard Commander Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan and Vietnamese Coastguard Commander Le Quang Dao exchange signed documents in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Vietnam is ready to hold talks with the Philippines to settle their overlapping claims to the undersea continental shelf in the South China Sea, official Vietnamese media said Friday, June 21, 2024, in a diplomatic approach that contrasts with China’s increasingly assertive actions to fortify its claims in the contested waters. (Hoang Thong Nhat/VNA via AP, File)

FILE - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., left, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong, right, look on as the Philippine Coastguard Commander Adm. Ronnie Gil Gavan and Vietnamese Coastguard Commander Le Quang Dao exchange signed documents in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Vietnam is ready to hold talks with the Philippines to settle their overlapping claims to the undersea continental shelf in the South China Sea, official Vietnamese media said Friday, June 21, 2024, in a diplomatic approach that contrasts with China’s increasingly assertive actions to fortify its claims in the contested waters. (Hoang Thong Nhat/VNA via AP, File)

FILE - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., right, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong inspect honor guards during a welcome ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Vietnam is ready to hold talks with the Philippines to settle their overlapping claims to the undersea continental shelf in the South China Sea, official Vietnamese media said Friday, June 21, 2024, in a diplomatic approach that contrasts with China’s increasingly assertive actions to fortify its claims in the contested waters. (Hoang Thong Nhat/VNA via AP, File)

FILE - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., right, and Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong inspect honor guards during a welcome ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024. Vietnam is ready to hold talks with the Philippines to settle their overlapping claims to the undersea continental shelf in the South China Sea, official Vietnamese media said Friday, June 21, 2024, in a diplomatic approach that contrasts with China’s increasingly assertive actions to fortify its claims in the contested waters. (Hoang Thong Nhat/VNA via AP, File)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s far-right national security minister visited Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site on Thursday, a move that could disrupt the delicate Gaza cease-fire talks.

Itamar Ben-Gvir, an ultranationalist settler leader, said he had gone up to the contested Jerusalem hilltop compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque to pray for the return of the hostages "but without a reckless deal, without surrendering.”

The move threatens to disrupt sensitive talks aimed at reaching a cease-fire in the 9-month-old Israel-Hamas war. Israeli negotiators landed in Cairo on Wednesday to continue talks.

The visit also came just days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves for a trip to the United States, where he will address Congress.

Ben-Gvir said while standing in front of the golden dome of Al-Aqsa Mosque that he “is praying and working hard" to ensure that Netanyahu will not give in to international pressure and will continue with the military campaign in Gaza.

Ben-Gvir last visited the site in May to protest countries unilaterally recognizing Palestinian statehood.

He has been convicted eight times for offenses that include racism and supporting a terrorist organization. As a teen, his views were so extreme that the army banned him from compulsory military service.

As security minister, Ben-Gvir oversees the country’s police force. As a key coalition partner, Ben-Gvir also has the power to rob Netanyahu of his parliamentary majority and try to force early elections.

Ben-Gvir has used his influence to push forward pet projects and encourage Netanyahu to press ahead with the war in Gaza in the face of widespread calls to reach a cease-fire deal that would bring home hostages.

Jews and Muslims both claim the Jerusalem hilltop compound, which is considered the holiest site for Jews.

Palestinians consider the mosque a national symbol and view such visits as provocative, though Ben-Gvir has frequently visited the site, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, during tense periods. Tensions over the compound have fueled past rounds of violence.

In an overnight session that lasted into Thursday morning, Israel’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state. The vote was largely symbolic and meant to send a message ahead of Netanyahu’s trip to the U.S.

Overnight Israeli strikes Thursday in central Gaza killed at least 11 people, according to the Hamas-run Civil Defense organization and hospitals. At least two children and two women were killed in air strikes on a house and a car.

In recent weeks, Israel has stepped up strikes in central Gaza, where many Palestinians have fled to escape fighting in other parts of the beleaguered territory. Israel’s military said it targeted a senior commander from the militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad’s naval forces in Gaza City, and another Islamic Jihad commander responsible for launches in the city of Shejayiah.

Israel also said it killed a senior commander affiliated with Hamas and other militant groups in Lebanon. In a statement, Sunni al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, or the Islamic Group, identified him as Mohammad Hamed Jabbara and said he was killed in a strike in the western Bekaa area in Lebanon not far from the Syrian border. The Israeli military described Jabara as a Hamas operative in Lebanon who helped coordinate Islamic Group attacks targeting northern Israel.

The war in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, has killed more than 38,600 people, according to the territory’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its count. The war has created a humanitarian catastrophe in the coastal Palestinian territory, displaced most of its 2.3 million population and triggered widespread hunger.

Hamas’ October attack killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and militants took about 250 hostage. About 120 remain in captivity, with about a third of them believed to be dead, according to Israeli authorities.

FILE - Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sept. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg, Pool, File)

FILE - Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attends a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sept. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg, Pool, File)

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