MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte will be “ready” to discuss the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute during his upcoming visit to Vietnam, another country with claims over the area.
Duterte is set to go on an official visit to Vietnam from Wednesday to Thursday, September 28 to 29.
“The President will be prepared to discuss the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) issue, in the context of reaffirming our commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes,” said Foreign Affairs spokesman Assistant Secretary Charles Jose on Monday, September 26, during a Palace briefing.
Duterte is scheduled to meet with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang and pay courtesy calls on other Vietnamese officials.
When asked if Duterte will bring up the West Philippine Sea dispute and the historic Hague ruling favoring the Philippines’ claim or merely react if someone else raises the issue, Jose said, “either way” Duterte will be ready to discuss.
“If ever the issue will be discussed, it will be in the context of emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace and our reiteration of our firm commitment to the principles of peaceful settlement and adherence to the rule of law,” added Jose.
The President, to be accompanied by Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, is also scheduled to meet with Filipinos based in Vietnam.
“Preparations have also been made for a meeting with the Filipino community in Vietnam who are expected to travel to Hanoi from various parts of the country. There are an estimated 3,800 Filipinos in Vietnam,” said Jose.
Duterte will also discuss other topics of mutual interest with Vietnam leaders.
These topics include maritime cooperation, enhancement of law enforcement and defense cooperation, increasing two-way trade and investments, strengthening joint cultural activities, and heightened exchanges in agriculture and fisheries.
Duterte’s Vietnam trip takes place on the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Vietnam.
Formal ties between the two Southeast Asian countries were established on July 12, 1976.
Duterte first met Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Laos in early September. – Rappler.com