Stronger ties with Vietnam eyed
(The Philippine Star) - September 27, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte is set to leave tomorrow for Hanoi for an official visit aimed at strengthening maritime security, law enforcement and defense cooperation with Vietnam.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said the trip is part of the President’s introductory visits to member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Duterte will meet with President Tran Dai Quang and other officials. He is also set to meet with the Filipino community in Hanoi. There are around 3,800 Filipinos in Vietnam.

“It is expected that the President and the Vietnamese leaders will discuss various areas of bilateral exchanges, including maritime cooperation, enhancement of law enforcement and defense cooperation, increasing two-way trade and investments, strengthening joint cultural activities, as well as heightened exchanges in agriculture and fisheries,” Jose said in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañang.

He added the President would be prepared to discuss the South China Sea issue with his counterparts in Vietnam.

“If ever this will be discussed, this will be in the context of, of course, emphasizing the need or the importance of maintaining, peace, stability, security in the region,” he said.

Jose explained the arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines’ position would be discussed in the context of peace settlements.

“And it will be in the context of reaffirming our firm commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes and our adherence to the rule of law,” Jose said.

He added the Philippines also aims to reiterate its commitment to working with ASEAN for the full and effective implementation of the 2005 Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea and for the immediate adoption of a legally binding Code of Conduct.

“The leaders are also expected to exchange views on regional and international issues,” he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said relations between the two countries have been growing and deepening steadily since the establishment of formal ties on July 12, 1976.

“Moreover, the President’s visit will also be an opportunity to solidify the strategic partnership between the two countries,” Jose said.

The DFA spokesman said the President and his counterpart would be able to set the direction and specific activities to be pursued in line with the vision contained in a joint statement on the establishment of strategic partnership between the Philippines and Vietnam signed in Manila in November 2015.

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