PHL, Vietnam agree to forge strategic partnership amid sea rows with China

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

THE Philippines and Vietnam on Wednesday agreed to forge strategic partnership amid their territorial disputes with China.

President Benigno Aquino III welcomed visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Malacanang where they held bilateral meeting and discussed among others the situation in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

"With regard to the situation in the East Sea, the President and I shared the deep concerns over the current extremely dangerous situation caused by China’s many actions that violate the international law, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and seriously infringe on the waters across our countries," said Dung during the joint press statements with Aquino.

"In particular, China's illegal placement of the oil rig (Haiyang Shiyou 981) and deployment of escort vessels to protect the rig deep into Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, have seriously threatened peace, stability, maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation in the East Sea," he said.

Dung said the Philippines and Vietnam are determined to oppose "China's violations" as he called on countries and international community to continue "strongly condemning China and demanding China to immediately end the said violations, and fully, strictly observe the international law, the 1982 Unclos, the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and make efforts for the early achievement the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC)."

Aquino said he discussed with Dung how the two countries could enhance confidence building, defense capabilities, and interoperability in addressing security challenges.

He expressed belief that continued cooperation with Vietnam, as well as with other members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), in defense and security would only contribute to promoting regional stability.

"It is not an overstatement when I say that I look forward to increased collaboration between our respective defense agencies. Might I also add that both our nations are looking forward to jointly determining the prerequisites in forging a roadmap towards a strategic partnership," he said.

Dung said the two countries agreed to establish a working commission headed by the two foreign ministers to establish the roadmap towards strategic partnership.

Aquino and Dung also agreed to increase two-way trade between the two countries to $3 billion by 2016.

The President also hosted a dinner for the visiting Vietnamese leader and members of his delegation in Malacanang. (SDR/Sunnex)

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