Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (R) and Philippine President Benigno Aquino. AFP FILE PHOTOS
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is expected to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino regarding their nations' territorial disputes with China on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA) which opened Wednesday in the Philippines.
Dung arrived in Manila Tuesday to meet with Aquino and take part in the WEF-EA, a four-day business event that drew more than 600 business leaders, policymakers and other participants together, the Philippine Inquirer reported.
“The President and the Prime Minister of Vietnam met and spoke with each other during the last ASEAN Summit in Myanmar,” the Philippines’ Communication Secretary Herminio Coloma told reporters.
“It is reasonable to expect that they will continue to compare notes on the two countries’ experience in dealing with issues on the South China Sea,” he said.
Charles Jose, the spokesman of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, on Tuesday said that Aquino and Dung are expected to uphold earlier statements made at the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar, where ministers and heads of state emphasized their commitments to peace and the rule of law in resolving the dispute.
“They’ve already discussed this during the last ASEAN Summit," Jose told a press briefing on Tuesday. "I think the leaders echoed statements issued by various ASEAN foreign ministers, who among other things, expressed their serious concern on [developments] in the South China Sea, and of course called for a peaceful settlement of the disputes, and for the parties to adhere to the rule of law.”
Aquino and Dung are set to issue a joint statement. Whether it will address the territorial dispute with China “will depend on the discussion that will take place,” Coloma said.
China and four members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei all claim territory in the East Sea, internationally known as the South China Sea. China's claim is the largest, covering most of the sea's 648,000 square miles (1.7 million square kilometers), a claim that has been emphatically rejected by international scholars.
Vietnam and the Philippines recently embroiled in new territorial conflicts with China, highlighting the lingering disputes over the resource and oil-rich waters.
The tensions between Hanoi and Beijing resurfaced early this month when the state-run China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) moved a giant US$1-billion oil rig into position over Vietnam's continental shelf and well inside its exclusive economic zone.
China also sent aircraft and military vessels to guard the rig.
The assembled armada has rammed and fired water cannons at Vietnamese vessels seeking to approach the rig.
Officials from Vietnam and the Philippines both protested China’s aggression during the ASEAN Summit in Myanmar on May 10-11.
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