MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he is looking forward to strengthening the country’s economic and security partnership with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam during his two-day official visit to “our ASEAN neighbor.”
In his departure speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, Duterte said that he is visiting Vietnam upon the invitation of President Tran Dai Quang and is looking forward to renewing the friendship and affirming the commitment to work closer to achieve the shared goals of the Philippines and Vietnam and their peoples.
“For the past 40 years, Philippines and Vietnam have fostered a strong relationship built on a common desire towards achieving greater peace and prosperity that is anchored on the basic tenets of sovereign equality, non-interference and peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said.
“I look forward to exchange views and explore opportunities further significantly improving our economic bilateral cooperation, including stronger partnership in economic, agriculture, defense, and maritime cooperation,” Duterte said.
Furthermore, the President said that the two countries will seek to identify emerging areas of partnership, particularly in the fields of maritime security and law enforcement, especially in the campaign against illegal drugs.
“We shall also seek ways to advance collaboration in the campaign against illegal drugs trade, consistent with the goal of realizing an ASEAN Drug-Free Community. We will work with Vietnam and the rest of the ASEAN in suppressing the proliferation of illegal drugs for us to secure a better future for our generation and the generations to come,” Duterte said.
The President said his visit to Vietnam takes special significance as he noted that both countries are preparing to take leadership roles in the region in 2017 – the Philippines as it chairs the ASEAN and Vietnam as it chairs APEC.
“As maritime nations with rapidly developing economies, we acknowledge the convergence of our strategic interest. I shall endeavor to work closely with my counterparts in Vietnam in order to fully realize the objectives we share,” he said.
“I am confident that, as we build on the outcomes of this visit, the relations between the Philippines and Vietnam will become even stronger, pursued, as it has to be, with mutual respect, closer cooperation and deeper understanding,” Duterte said.