MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario flew to Vietnam on Tuesday, to meet with Vietnam officials in Hanoi, a crucial step in the two countries’ partnership on maritime issues in the region amid the rising tensions in the disputed South China Sea.
In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Del Rosario would lead the Philippine delegation in the October 21ministerial meeting of the 8th Philippines-Viet Nam Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“The meeting is an opportunity to discuss developments in our bilateral relations which have expanded significantly and strengthened and diversified through cooperative activities,” Del Rosario said.
The Hanoi meeting will be co-chaired by Del Rosario with his Viet Nam counterpart, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh.
The JCBC is an important mechanism between the two countries to discuss bilateral and regional issues, as well as plan for joint projects to enhance Philippines-Viet Nam cooperation in areas such as political, economic, security, defense, agriculture and maritime cooperation.
The two coastal nations and claimants in the disputed South China Sea are working on a strategic partnership agreement that will bolster its bilateral ties.
The agreement is expected to be signed on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting onNovember 18 and 19, making Vietnam the Philippines’ third strategic partner next to the United States and Japan.
Del Rosario said that being rapidly developing economies, the two countries must strengthen and intensify their bilateral relations
The two neighboring countries are both challenging China’s nine-dash line claim which encompasses almost the entire South China Sea.
The Philippines stands lose close to 80 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone while Vietnam, 50 percent of its EEZ should China insist on enforcing its sweeping claims.
The Philippines has initiated the arbitration proceedings against China before the international tribunal in the Hague, the Netherlands in 2013, which was supported by Vietnam through a position paper. SFM
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