BEIJING, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- China hopes for talks with the Philippines on the South China Sea issue at an early date, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang was responding to a comment by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who said the talks might happen "within the year."
Duterte said on Tuesday that he had no plan to take the South China Sea arbitration to the East Asia Summit next month, and would rather talk about the dispute with China face to face.
Welcoming Duterte's remarks, Lu said China will always work with countries directly concerned, including the Philippines, to resolve any dispute through peaceful negotiation and consultation.
China and the Philippines, as friendly neighbors, have the ability and wisdom to settle the issue through consultation and restore friendly relations, Lu said.
Former Philippine President Fidel Ramos visited Hong Kong as Duterte's special envoy earlier this month to pave way for talks with Beijing.