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Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking Davao City mayor who is leading Philippine presidential polls, said he will hold bilateral talks with China to resolve a territorial dispute in the South China Sea if the current multilateral discussions do not bear fruit within two years.

Duterte told supporters Sunday night on Liwasang Bonifacio square in Manila City that he will defend Philippine claims in the contested waters while remaining open to the possibility of joint exploration for energy assets with China. He may also ask China to help build key railway projects connecting Manila to provinces and for assistance with a long-standing plan for a train system in Mindanao, his home region.

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