Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. is deeply concerned about tensions in the resource-rich South China Sea and wants to see the territorial disputes there worked out through arbitration.
Kerry met Tuesday with Foreign Secretary Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario of the Philippines, one of the Southeast Asia nations in a dispute with China over small islands located in sea lanes crucial to world trade.
Kerry reiterated U.S. support for a code of conduct to manage the maritime disputes.
China prefers to negotiate with the other claimant states individually rather than as a group, so agreement on a code seems far off.
Del Rosario said the Philippines is committed to strengthening its U.S. treaty alliance. Kerry described it as a very important relationship during the current tension.