China agrees to Hold Foreign Minister Meeting to De-escalate Tensions with the Philippines

**Philippines and China To Resolve South China Sea Conflict**

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to organize regular meetings between the foreign ministers of both countries to resolve conflicts in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

In an interview with various television channels on Monday night, Duterte assured that the bilateral group to resolve this type of disagreement must move from the current sub-ministerial level to “a higher level” that directly involves the heads of both diplomacies for “report violations” of the agreements reached.

“I will ask my foreign secretary (Enrique Manalo) to be a part of it and also the Philippine ambassador to China,” he said, adding that Xi agreed with the idea when it was raised during his official visit to China on past January 4.

“He said why not and asked his (Wang Yi) foreign minister to take care of the details,” the Philippine president said.

Duterte avoided raising the tone in the face of the harassment of a Philippine fishing vessel by Chinese ships in disputed waters this month, but affirmed that “China has not complied with the minimum agreement” it reached with Xi regarding this matter.

In 2017, China and the Philippines launched the so-called bilateral consultation mechanism to hold diplomatic talks on incidents in the disputed waters, but it has not served to reduce tension.

China and the Philippines maintain a conflict over the ownership of several islands and atolls in the Spratly archipelago, also partially claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, which Beijing considers its own for “historical reasons”.

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