Vietnamese president wraps up successful Philippines visit

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Vietnam's president wrapped up his three day visit to the Philippines on October 28 with several agreements inked and promising more cooperation in economy, defense and marine research.

President Truong Tan Sang visited the Philippines when the two countries celebrated 35th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations and bilateral cooperation are strongly developing on several fields, from politics, diplomacy, national defense and security and marine to economy, education, culture and tourism, Foreign Affairs Minister Pham Binh Minh said in a statement on the same day.

"The visit shows good diplomatic tradition within ASEAN bloc and reaffirmed Vietnam's policy of highly evaluating relations with regional countries, including the Philippines," he said.

During his three-day state visit to the Philippines, President Sang and his Philippine counterpart Benigno Aquino witnessed the signing of four agreements, including a five-year cooperation plan through 2016, a memorandum on cooperation and sharing information between the two countries' navies, the establishment of a hotline between the Vietnam Marine Police and Philippine Coast Guard, and a five-year tourism cooperation plan.

At a joint news conference in Manila on October 26, President Sang and President Aquino pressed for a "zone of peace" in the disputed East Sea, also known as South China Sea.

The Philippine president said he and his Vietnamese counterpart "reaffirmed the importance of the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime safety and security in the region."

Sang promised his government's support for Manila's proposal for a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation in the East Sea. The proposal will complement implementing guidelines of an informal code of conduct by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, Reuters reported Wednesday.

On economic cooperation, the two sides pledged to create favorable conditions for enterprises and investors from the two countries in investment and looking forward to increase bilateral trade to US$3 billion in 2016.

On marine and oceanic cooperation, the two sides agreed to consider it as one of the pillars in bilateral cooperation, the foreign affairs minister Minh said.

The two countries agreed to open a direct air route between the two capital cities soon to boost tourism cooperation as well as cultural exchanges.

President Sang's visit to the Philippines was among his first state visit as Vietnamese president, following a visit to India and Sri Lanka from October 11-15.

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