Vietnam’s Defence Minister, General Phung Quang Thanh on May 31 held separate bilateral meetings with his counterparts from the US, UK and France on the sidelines of the 13th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

At the meeting between Minister Thanh and US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, the two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in searching for US servicemen missing in action (MIA) during the war, clearing post-war mines and unexploded ordinance and dealing with the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam.

Regarding the current East Sea situation, both Thanh and Hagel stressed the need to respect international law and the importance of maintaining peace, stability, and maritime and air security and freedom in the East Sea.
On the basis of mutual understanding and in a constructive spirit, they exchanged views on protecting peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Their meeting took place right after the US Defence Secretary delivered a speech at the first plenary session of the 13th Asia Security Forum (Shangri-La Dialogue).

Talking to the media at the event, Minister Thanh said he highly valued Hagel’s speech that put emphasis on the need for countries to make a concerted effort to maintain a peaceful and stable environment and strictly comply with international law.

During Thanh’s meetings with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, the French and UK partners voiced their concern over tensions in the East Sea following China’s illegal placement of its oil rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Hammond affirmed the UK ’s strong support for the EU declaration which showed concern over disputes between China and Vietnam regarding the illegal rig and called on the concerned parties to ease tensions and avoid unilateral actions that may harm peace and stability in the region.

He underscored that the UK opposes the use of force in settling any dispute.

Meanwhile, Le Drian said he backs the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.

Also on May 31, Deputy Defence Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh held a working session with the Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.-VNA