PH, Vietnam hold talks to boost defense amid China tensionBy Frances Mangosing
MANILA, Philippines- Vietnamese Defense Minister General Phung Quang Thanh met his Philippine counterpart Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at Camp Aguinaldo on Monday amid China’s aggressiveness on its excessive claims over the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
“Both officials assessed joint activities of the two defense and military establishments and explored other cooperative initiatives to include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation given both countries’ experience on natural disasters,” the Department of National Defense issued in a statement.
They also exchanged views on recent security issues on mutual concern particularly on the situation in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and the US’ policy of re-balancing in the Asia-Pacific.
Vietnam had been supportive of the Philippines’s arbitral proceedings against China’s territorial claims. Both the Philippines and Vietnam are claiming some parts of the South China Sea, but China virtually claims almost the entire sea.
“Since the signing of the defense cooperation agreement between the Philippines and Vietnam in 2010, defense relations between the two countries have progressed through high-level visits, personnel exchanges and information-sharing. These exchanges fostered government-to-government links as well as people-to-people ties for the mutual benefit of the two countries,” the DND also said.
In 2010, both countries signed a memorandum agreement aimed to enhance their defense cooperation and give a boost to their bilateral military ties.
The Vietnamese defense minister is in the country from August 25 to 27. He will leave for Brunei on Tuesday for the Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting Retreat and the 2nd Asean Defense Ministers’ Meeting-Plus.