Vietnamese warships make first-ever port call to Philippines

By Mai Thanh Hai, Thanh Nien News

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Photo: Mai Thanh Hai
Two frigates from the Vietnamese People’s Navy made the first-ever port call to the Philippines on Monday. 
The HQ-011 Dinh Tien Hoang and HQ-012 Ly Thai To docked at the Manila South Harbor for a three-day goodwill visit. 
The 228 officers and sailors aboard the ships led by Rear Admiral Nguyen Van Kiem, the navy's deputy chief of staff, were welcomed by officers from the Philippine Navy. 
"The first port call is a positive sign of the improving and deepening relations between the Philippine Navy and Vietnam People's Navy," Reuters quoted Philippine Lieutenant Commander Marineth Domingo as saying.
On Tuesday, the Vietnamese officers and sailors took part in a sporting exchange with their Philippine counterparts in Fort Bonifacio. 
The two sides will engage in a joint search and rescue exercise before wrapping up the visit. 
Vietnam and the Philippines established diplomatic relations in 1976. In 2010, the two countries signed a bilateral defense cooperation agreement to boost ties between the two armies.

In March, the two navies held staff-to-staff talks to step up exchanges in intelligence and information gathering, naval technology and training.

Three months later, Vietnamese and Philippine troops got together on a disputed island to play soccer and volleyball and drink beer in a get-together Philippine officials said proved there could be harmony despite a web of overlapping claims, Reuters reported.

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