Talking to reporters on the fringe of the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and related events in Vientiane, Laos, Kerry said he is due to travel to the Philippines later on July 26 and meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte the next day to urge him to take part in dialogue.
The US is not taking sides on the substance of maritime disputes between other countries, but believes the rule of law must be upheld, he said.
He pressed for the peaceful settlement of disputes and called upon all relevant parties to behave responsibly and exercise self-restraint.
The State Secretary considered China’s rejection of The Hague tribunal’s ruling as a challenge, while many countries, including the US, recognised the verdict.
The arbitration tribunal issued its verdict on the Philippines’ case against China’s unfounded territorial claims in the East Sea, on July 12.
It stated China’s claims to historic rights over waters within the nine-dash line are contrary to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
It also finds no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the nine-dash line, adding that China has interfered with traditional Philippine fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal.
At the press conference, Kerry also mentioned the US’s “pivot to Asia” policy, stressing the importance of ASEAN – US relations and the willingness to enhance cooperation to address global challenges such as terrorism, human trafficking and climate change.