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Vatican seeks peaceful solution to West Philippine Sea row

Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher with PH Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo during their meeting on Tuesday, July 2, 2024. (Photo: JP Soriano/GMA Integrated News)

The papal state relations head has invited the Philippine and Chinese governments to "abide by international law" over the West Philippine Sea (WPS) dispute. 

“The position of the Holy See is quite clear," Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign relations secretary, said in a press conference in Manila on July 2. "In such situations of conflict, whatever they are, first of all, every effort must be made so that any differences and conflicts are resolved peacefully." 

"We would encourage parties in conflict to abide by international law and to pursue ways of resolving difficulties and problems with the best interests of all involved,” he added. 

Gallagher met with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo to discuss issues, and maritime claims.

He said the Philippines and the Vatican have shared views on international issues, including the WPS row.

"We noted our shared perspective that amidst international challenges and conflicts, the international community must be united in preserving a world where differences are resolved peacefully and based on international law," Manalo said.

This was the first time a Vatican official spoke about the West Philippine Sea issue. 

On July 12, 2016, the arbitral tribunal overwhelmingly ruled in favor of the Philippines that China’s claims in the WPS, , including its nine-dash line, recent land reclamation activities, and other activities in Philippine waters were unlawful.

But Beijing refuses to recognize the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling. 

The papal diplomat is on a five-day visit to the Philippines and will address the Filipino bishops at their annual retreat in Malaybalay City on Thursday.

The foreign affairs earlier said Gallagher's visit to the Philippines this year is the first official visit of a Vatican foreign minister in the 72-year diplomatic relations between the two states.


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