President Rodrigo Duterte is prepared to discuss the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China if it comes up during his visit to Vietnam, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday.
Duterte will be in Vietnam from September 28 to 29. He is scheduled to meet with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang and pay a courtesy call on other top leaders of the Vietnamese government.
“If ever this will be discussed, this will be in the context of, of course, emphasizing the need or the importance of maintaining, peace, stability, security in the region,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a news conference in Malacañang.
Jose said the discussion will be “in the context of reaffirming our firm commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes and our adherence to the rule of law.”
“Vietnam’s role in the South China Sea remains significant. First of all, because Vietnam is a claimant country to the overlapping maritime claims in the South China Sea. And secondly, Vietnam is a member of [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations],” he said.
Vietnam and the Philippines claim part of the South China Sea.
The DFA official said Duterte and the Vietnamese leaders will also discuss various areas of bilateral exchange, including maritime cooperation, enhancement of law enforcement and defense cooperation, and increasing two-way trade and investments.
“In speaking with the Vietnam leadership, the President and his counterparts will be able to set the direction and specific activities to be pursued in line with the vision of the joint statement on the establishment of a strategic partnership between the Republic of the Philippines and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which was signed in Manila in November 2015,” he added.
Jose said Duterte will meet with about 3,800 Filipinos in Hanoi.