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Philippines FM hopeful ASEAN-China maritime code ready by mid-2017

Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay speaks during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/Files
Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay speaks during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, December 5, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines is hopeful that a code of conduct for Southeast Asian nations and China over the disputed South China Sea will be completed by the middle of this year, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

“Even as we speak, we continue to have discussions with our high officials, below ministerial level, and these talks are ongoing,” Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay told a news conference.

“And this is precisely why we are hopeful that we would be able to come out with a code of conduct by mid-2017.”

The code of conduct has been in the works since 2002 and has been plagued by delays, which Yasay described as “intervening events” that had prevented it moving forward.

Yasay said China had been “very cooperative” in helping it progress.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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