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Duterte says the South China Sea dispute is better left untouched

Philippine president echoes China's opposition to a 'useless war'

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Manila on Nov. 12. (Photo by Yukako Ono)

MANILA Following bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping the previous day, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Nov. 12 that a territorial dispute in the South China Sea between China and five Asian countries, including the Philippines, is "better left untouched."

"Today China is the No. 1 economic powerhouse, and we have to be friends," Duterte told a business gathering in Manila. He had just flown back from the Vietnamese city of Danang where heads of state, including Xi, had gathered for an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

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