In a statement issued Monday, the Department of National Defense (DND) said that the two defense chiefs exchanged views on their countries' sea disputes with China as well as the recent United States decision to focus its strategic policy on the Asia Pacific.

China is pushing for its "indisputable sovereignty" over 80 percent of the South China Sea, causing a longstanding territorial row with neighboring Southeast Asian countries including Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.

"Both ministers assessed joint activities of the two defense and military establishments and explored other cooperative initiatives to include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation given both countries' experience in natural disasters," the statement added.

Thanh, whose visit ends Tuesday, also renewed an agreement on defense cooperation with the Philippines signed in 2010.

"Defense relations between the two countries have progressed through high-level visits, personal exchanges and information-sharing. These exchanges fostered government-to-government links as well as people-to-people ties for the mutual benefit of the two countries," the DND statement said. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

The DND similarly expressed confidence in the Philippines' relations with Vietnam in its agenda to modernize the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

"The visit of General Thanh to the Philippines clearly reflects the commitment of both countries to enhance cooperation in jointly developing their defense capabilities and in contributing to regional peace and stability," the agency said.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also visited the country for a meeting with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario earlier this month.

"The two sides agreed to cooperate in ensuring the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea/East Sea, peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law," foreign affairs department said.

By Camille Diola Philstar.com - August 27, 2013


Vietnam vows cooperation with Philippines on sea dispute

MANILA - The meeting between the foreign affairs chiefs of the Philippines and Vietnam concluded Thursday, with both parties vowing to cooperate on the settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that both countries expressed mutual stance to uphold the rule of law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in their long-standing claims on territories China calls it owns.

"The two sides agreed to cooperate in ensuring the rule of law in the West Philippine Sea/East Sea, peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law," DFA said in a statement.

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh also vowed to work on the the early conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct to guide behavior in the sea, DFA added.

"Both sides also agreed to explore new areas of cooperation in law enforcement, particularly to conclude agreements in extradition, mutual legal assistance, and transfer of sentenced persons," it said.

On the economic side, Vietnam and the Philippines also renewed joint efforts in promoting trade and investments and business linkages. Headlines ( Article MRec ), pagematch: 1, sectionmatch: 1

Minh's visit to Manila has sparked speculations that the countries are forging an alliance to counter increased activity of Asian giant China in the contested islets.

The same has been said about the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is also embroiled in a dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands.

Minh, meanwhile, also paid a courtesy visit to President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday.

By Camille Diola Philstar.com - August 1, 2013