MANILA — The Philippines and Vietnam have agreed to strengthen coordination in dealing with maritime issues, particularly in working on a code of conduct in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
Philippine diplomats traveled to Ha Long, Vietnam on Monday and Tuesday to hold talks with their Vietnamese counterparts during the 10th Philippines-Vietnam Joint Permanent Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Concerns.
In a statement, DFA said the two countries also agreed to explore a "broad range of potential maritime cooperation activities to enhance their strategic partnership."
"The two countries expressed serious concern over unilateral activities that undermine peace and stability in the region. They committed to work together to protect their rights and legitimate interests under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and enhance confidence-building measures between relevant agencies," the DFA also said.
DFA Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela Ponce, who headed the Philippine delegation to the meeting, said discussions with their Vietnamese counterparts were "critical" in strengthening ties between the 2 Southeast Asian countries.
"The delegations also conveyed their governments’ gratitude for the humane treatment accorded by both countries to Filipino and Vietnamese fisherfolk found in distress at sea," the department said.
Other issues tackled during the meeting include enhancement of joint activities in the fields of marine scientific research, meteorology, marine environment protection, search and rescue, oil spill preparedness and response, fisheries, and facilitation of maritime trade.
"Vietnam is the Philippines’ only strategic partner in ASEAN with formal relations spanning almost 47 years," the DFA said.
Vietnam and the Philippines are both claimants to parts of the South China Sea, along with China, Malaysia, and Indonesia, among others.
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