Aquino arrives in Vietnam for first state visit

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2010 05:50 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2010 07:32 PM

Says Vietnam's agricultural production worth emulating

HANOI, Vietnam - President Aquino arrived here in Hanoi on Tuesday afternoon for his first state visit.        

He was given arrival honors at the Noi Bai International Airport where he was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam Jerril Santos and Vietnamese Cabinet officials.            

He met with Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet at the Presidential Palace where the two leaders signed 4 memoranda of agreement on 4 areas of cooperation, namely, higher education, defense, oil spill preparedness and response, and search and rescue at sea.          

The President also met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Vietnam has a significant relationship with the Philippines, it being the Philippines' primary source of rice imports. 

President Aquino told reporters that while rice importation would not be a specific topic in the bilateral meeting between the leaders of the two countries, he hopes this could be one of the areas of cooperation that can be explored later on.

"On the flight from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi, you will notice their agricultural production is really...seems to be something worth emulating. There's a dearth of areas that are left vacant. Everything is abundant, the water system seems to be really really good," Aquino told reporters.

It's the Philippines that once relayed knowledge on rice production to Vietnam through the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

This time, it's the Philippines that can learn from Vietnam as seen from Vietnam's heavy mechanization of rice.

"Our trade with them has an imbalance primarily because of our rice importation. All of those things, we hope to have closer ties with them: share the knowledge,  share the experiences and perhaps, solve some of our problems," Aquino said. 

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang said the Philippines can learn from Vietnam in terms of land use.

"So, we have things to learn as far as implementation is concerned. The technology to develop rice, to produce rice, a lot of that came from the Philippines through IRRI. Natuto ang Thailand, natuto ang Vietnam doon. So siguro, makikita natin sa implementation nila, mas efficient sila, doon siguro tayo pwede matuto," Carandang told reporters.

Like the Philippines, Vietnam is one of the claimants of portions of the Spratly Islands.

President Aquino said he will address this issue in of his speeches here but said it will be in terms of cooperation.

"Only to reiterate the call for adherence to the Code of Conduct [on the South China Sea], number one, and perhaps, an even more formalized plan towards exploiting it perhaps, on a cooperative basis," Aquino said.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Philippines will "renew its commitment to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea signed by ASEAN member-states and China as a basic fundamental pillar of cooperation in the South China Sea." 

After the two-day state visit, the President will attend the 17th ASEAN Summit and other related summits, also in Hanoi, starting Thursday to Saturday.

According to Carandang, Aquino is expected to hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of Indonesia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Brunei and Australia. 

It is not certain if the issue of the recent hostage crisis will be discussed with the leader of China, Carandang said. 

The President's convoy used sirens (wang-wang). Carandang said the President had been informed of this beforehand as part of the protocol and courtesy given to the visiting head of state.

Carandang said the President would not want to impose on his hosts his preference for not using wang-wang.

The President wanted to keep his delegation lean, in keeping of his austerity measures, he said.