by Joyce Ann L. Rocamora | National News
MANILA — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and his Vietnamese counterpart on Wednesday had an “in-depth and substantive discussion” on regional issues, including the disputed South China Sea.
“We both underlined the importance of maintaining peace, stability, safety and security of navigation in the South China Sea, peaceful resolution of dispute, and respecting the diplomatic and legal processes, respecting international law, including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) 1982,” Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said in a press briefing.
During the meeting, Minh also underscored the “full observance of the Declaration of Conduct” toward the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
Vietnam and the Philippines, along with some member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), have contesting claims in the disputed South China Sea with Beijing, which asserts almost 90 percent of the waters with its invisible demarcation called the nine-dash line.
The territorial spat has yet to be settled but Hanoi, Manila, and other claimants have committed to work alongside China toward the conclusion of the COC.
Currently, the Philippines is sitting as the country coordinator for the ASEAN-China dialogue where parties negotiate for the finalized COC.
Minh said he spoke highly of the Philippines’ role as he noted that Manila pledged to support Vietnam to successfully chair the ASEAN in 2020.
Minh held talks with Locsin during the 9th Vietnam-Philippines Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) meeting in Manila where he also reaffirmed the two nations’ “strategic partnership.” (PNA)