During the meeting, the two countries discussed the Philippine proposal for a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation and the establishment of a Code of Conduct in the West Philippine Sea.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario received Vietnamese deputy Foreign minister Ho Xuan Son at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on February 20 at the start of the inaugural meeting of the 1st joint commission.

Ho headed the 16-member Vietnamese delegation while Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio headed the 10-member Philippine delegation.

The holding of the joint commission at the deputy foreign minister level was agreed on during the 6th meeting of the two countries last October 6-7.

The joint commission will assume the work of the Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns and continue discussions on the outstanding issues and identify new agenda items.

The transition to the joint commission at the deputy foreign minister level was pursuant to the Philippines-Vietnam Action Plan 2011-2016, which aims to achieve a more responsive and effective mechanism for bilateral cooperation on maritime and ocean concerns.

By Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star - February 26, 2012