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July 24, 2017

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Philippines rules out joint exploration of Reed Bank

MANILA -- The Philippines on Friday ruled out on Friday any more joint exploration with other claimant countries in the Reed Bank in the South China Sea, an area believed to have huge oil and gas deposits.

"The Reed Bank is not part of the Spratlys," Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters, referring to a disputed group of islands in the South China Sea.

"What is ours is ours," del Rosario said, adding that the Reed Bank, about 80 nautical miles west of southwestern Palawan province, was within the country's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The Spratlys, also considered a rich fishing ground, are claimed entirely by China, Taiwan and Vietnam and in part by Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippine.

Tension has risen in the area in recent weeks.

Many Southeast Asian countries see an uptick in China's maritime activities as a sign Beijing is becoming increasingly assertive in pressing its claims.

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