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Philippine finance secretary: Duterte talked South China Sea with Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on October 20, 2016 in Beijing, China.

Philippine Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez told CNBC on Friday his country's president, Rodrigo Duterte brought up the South China Sea in a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

However, Dominguez did not specify on whether the two leaders discussed the more sensitive topic concerning a ruling by the international tribunal court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The court in 2016 rejected China's claims to large swathes of the South China Sea — a ruling that Beijing had dismissed.

Dominguez is part of a delegation which Duterte led during his visit to China this week — the Philippine president's fifth since he took office in 2016.

Duterte had been reluctant to enforce the ruling against China, but political pressure at home has mounted in recent weeks and Duterte said he would bring up the ruling when he meets Xi.

Reuters, citing a statement by Duterte's spokesman, reported that the Philippine leader was "steadfast" in raising his country's concerns about the South China Sea, which included the arbitration court ruling. The news agency said Xi reiterated his government's position of not recognizing the decision.

Chinese state media Xinhua didn't mention the 2016 outcome in its reporting on the two leaders' meeting.