Vietnam reaffirms stance on sea dispute settlement

Sovereignty disputes at sea should be directly settled between concerned parties and be transparent in the international environment.

Deputy Defence Minister Sen. Lieu. Gen. Nguyen Chi Vinh reiterated Vietnam’s stance while receiving defence ministers and officials of countries attending the 2012 Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2-3.

Vinh stressed that addressing sea-related issues requires concerned parties not to use or threaten to use force, as well as not to use or threaten to use ‘soft’ power such as economic isolation, considering this a must in international norms.

He echoed his guests’ view that all disputes in the East Sea should be peacefully resolved according to international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as regional commitments that ASEAN and its dialogue partners have made.

The head of the Vietnamese delegation to the Shangri La Dialogue noted that adhering to international law means all countries should have similar understanding and explanation of international law.

He also confirmed that the sovereign right of coastal countries over their exclusive economic zones (EEZ) within 200 nautical miles should be definitely respected.

During a meeting with Indian Defence Minister A.K.Antony, Vinh highlighted Vietnam’s consistent policy of promoting the strategic partnership with India, in which national defence ties are considered as a pillar.

He proposed that India continue to support Vietnam in such areas as training and national defence industries.

Antony said that strengthening relations with Vietnam is one of India’s priorities in its Look East policy. He requested Vietnam to support India in multilateral forums.

Vinh and Antony shared the view that the two countries will work close together to effectively organise the strategic dialogue on national defence at the deputy ministerial level in India late this year.

The Vietnamese general conveyed National Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh’s invitation to Antony to visit Vietnam, and the invitation was accepted with pleasure.

Vinh also met with defence ministers and officials from China, the US, Singapore, Australia, Canada, the UN and the European Union.

Delegates to the Shangri La Dialogue emphasised that maritime freedom should be respected in the East Sea and that any dispute should be handled peacefully according to international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and the future Code of Conduct (COC).

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta voiced his strong support for the increased organisation of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting - Plus (ADMM+) and for ongoing efforts by ASEAN and China in formulating the COC in the East Sea.