Vietnamese training ship pays goodwill visit to the Phillippines amid tensions

By VnExpress   April 10, 2017 | 04:52 pm GMT+7
Vietnamese training ship pays goodwill visit to the Phillippines amid tensions
Vietnam's sail training ship Le Quy Don 286. Photo by People's Army newspaper.

The visit aims to strengthen ties between the two navies following President Duterte's contentious statement.

A Vietnamese training ship docked in the Philippines on Saturday as part of a goodwill visit to the country, the People's Army newspaper reported.

The Vietnam People's Navy's Le Quy Don 286  arrived at Manila South Harbor in the morning after a 700-nautical-mile voyage. It was greeted by delegates from the Philippine Navy.

The ship's 50 cadets, lead by Commodore Phan Van Van, will participate in various activities with their Filipino counterparts, including a receptions and a volleyball match. The visit aims to strengthen ties between the two navies.

Commodore Van would the trip will be a learning experience for the young cadets and hoped that the relationship between both countries' navies will continue to thrive in the future.

Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph S. Mercado of the Philippine Navy welcomed the Vietnamese delegation, saying the trip is a good opportunity for young cadets from both countries to exchange experiences. Mercado also put forward an idea to increase the number of annual maritime visits between the two navies to twice a year, instead of once.

In 2015, Vietnam and the Philippines entered a defense and maritime agreement, paving the way for the two countries to boost maritime security cooperation in the face of China's continuing military expansion in the region.

China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Brunei and Vietnam contest all or parts of the South China Sea (known as the East Sea in Vietnam). This has led to confrontations, mainly between China and some of its neighbors, over the strategic trade route.

In a statement on Thursday, Philippine President Duterte said he might visit Thitu (Pagasa) Island in the Spartly Archipelago, over which Vietnam claims sovereignty, on June 12 (the Philippines' Independence Day), as reported by Reuters.

Duterte's statement has been interpreted by some analysts as an order for Filipino troops to occupy new territories or uninhabited islands and shoals that the Philippines claims in the South China Sea.

However, Philippine defense and military officials sought to clarify their president's comments on Friday, saying the Philippines will upgrade existing facilities on its inhabited islands and reefs in the South China Sea, and not occupy new territories, adhering to a 2002 informal code in the disputed waters.

Le Thi Thu Hang, Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement on Sunday that Vietnam has sufficient evidence to prove its sovereignty over the Spartlys and the Paracel Archipelago, another island chain in the East Sea.

 
 
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