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By Windsor Genova
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed U.S. support to the Philippines' territorial claims on the Spratlys and said that no country has the right to intimidate Manila to assert sovereignty over the disputed island chain in the South China Sea.
Responding to a reporter's question at the presidential palace in Manila if the U.S. will support the Philippines' claims in the Spratly Islands before the United Nations, Inquirer.net quoted Clinton as saying, "They should follow the international law, the rule of law, the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos)."
The visiting Clinton was referring to the other claimants to the islands namely Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The Philippines bases its claim on parts of the Spratlys to the Unclos, which defines a country's exclusive economic zone as extending 200 nautical miles from the coast.
Clinton also said that no claimants have the right to pursue their claim on the islands through intimidation or coercion.
China had cut the cables of survey ships from the Philippines and Vietnam, which are exploring oil deposits in the waters around the islands.
In the press conference following a two-hour meeting with President Benigno Aquino III and other cabinet officials in the presidential palace, Clinton also announced that the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty needs updating through greater U.S. support for Philippines' external defense. How this will be done will be the agenda of a meeting she will have with Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin in Washington in January.
Before making the courtesy call to Aquino, Clinton signed a declaration marking the 60th anniversary of the treaty aboard the USS Fitzgerald in Manila Bay.
"We must ensure that this alliance remains strong, capable of delivering results for the people of the Philippines and the United States and our neighbors throughout the Pacific," Clinton said from the deck of the warship, according to Inquirer.net.
After her overnight visit in Manila, Clinton will proceed to Bali, Indonesia to attend the East Asia Summit.
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United States Backs Philippines Stake in Spratlys | Global Viewpoint