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Duterte, Vietnam PM discuss delineation of maritime boundaries


President Rodrigo Duterte and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuân Phúc on Thursday met in Indonesia to discuss the delineation of maritime boundaries concerning both countries.

Duterte disclosed the development upon his arrival in Davao City on Friday from the Indonesian resort island of Bali, where he attended the Association of Southeast Nations Leaders’ Gathering.

“I told him that in due time, but we will take a longer period for we have to establish even our continental shelf limits,” the President said.

“We both committed to work more closely to achieve shared goals for stability in the region,” he added.

The Philippines’ only maritime boundary treaty so far is with Indonesia. In May 2014, Manila and Jakarta signed an agreement on the delimitation of overlapping exclusive economic zones in the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea.

Duterte, meanwhile, said he personally conveyed to to Indonesian President Joko Widodo the Philippines’ condolences to the Indonesian people who suffered successive earthquakes and tsunami. 

Duterte and Phúc previously met at the 32nd ASEAN Summit in Singapore in April where both leaders discussed the South China Sea dispute.

In that meeting, Duterte assured his Vietnamese counterpart that the Philippines was not abandoning the decision of the United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in 2016 that invalidated China's excessive claims in the South China Sea.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on April 27 that Phúc praised the Philippines' position even as Duterte stressed that the decision “is only binding to the parties in the arbitration.”

The Palace official added it was Phúc who raised the matter because the Vietnamese leader was seeking support for the joint submission of Malaysia and Vietnam to the UN in 2009 that lays claim on the continental shelf in the southern part of the disputed waters.

Beijing has since refused to recognize the ruling, which Duterte temporarily set aside in order to forge closer ties with China, the world's second largest economy.

Calls for an early conclusion of a code of conduct have heightened in recent years due to a series of confrontations between China and its smaller Southeast Asian neighbors with overlapping territorial claims, especially Vietnam and the Philippines.

Other claimants include Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.  — Virgil Lopez/RSJ, GMA News

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