CORRECTION Amid tensions with China, Philippines mulls maritime pact with Vietnam
Agreement would make it ‘easier’ to confront ‘common challenges’ in territorial disputes in South China Sea, says Philippine president
CORRECTS UNCLEAR STATUS OF POTENTIAL AGREEMENT, OTHER CHANGES THROUGHOUT; REVISES DECK
By Necva Tastan
ISTANBUL (AA) - A maritime agreement with Vietnam would help bring "stability" to the disputed South China Sea, said the Philippine president on Thursday.
As the countries are set to start discussions on a such a pact, it would “be a very, very important part of our relationship and it will bring an element of stability to the problems that we are seeing now in the South China Sea,” Ferdinand Marcos Jr said during a farewell call in Manila by Vietnam's outgoing ambassador, Hoang Huy Chung.
Addressing the departing envoy, Marcos said such an agreement would mark "a very big step" in relations between the two Southeast Asian countries, said a statement by Marcos’ office.
Chung thanked Marcos for the Philippines’ cooperation on "shared interests in the West Philippine Sea and for preventing incidents in Philippines waters."
Marcos also said that the countries have a "good, solid" understanding that benefits both sides, thus, making it easier to confront "common challenges" in territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
Manila mulling an agreement with Hanoi comes amid escalating maritime tensions between the Philippines and China.
Bilateral relations between Beijing and Manila have escalated, primarily due to disputed maritime claims in the South China Sea. The most recent incident, when the Chinese Coast Guard fired a water cannon at Philippine vessels this week, triggered a sharp reaction from Manila.
Beijing tried to justify the action and asked the Philippines to remove its warship from disputed islets, but Manila has refused.
Manila under Marcos since last year has been leaning towards the US, making more military bases accessible to American troops.
The territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea remain highly contested despite repeated calls for a negotiated settlement and avoiding breaches of sovereignty.
In 2016, however, China was dealt a blow when the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), an international tribunal based in The Hague, the Netherlands, ruled that its so-called nine-dash line claim has no legal basis under international law.
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