The first Vietnam – Thailand Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation convened in Bangkok on November 5 to discuss bilateral links across the board.

Co-chaired by Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul, the discussions featured links across politics, defence-security, economics, trade, investment, transport, agro-forestry-fisheries, culture, education, sports, tourism, labour and people-to-people exchange.

Both sides declared special attention to developing the strategic partnership that was established in June, agreeing that all-level visits and people-to-people exchanges will be facilitated in order to strengthen friendship, and mutual understanding and trust.

The two ministers approved the 2014-2018 Vietnam–Thailand action plan which is expected to be signed at the third meeting of the Joint Vietnam-Thailand Cabinet Retreat in the near future.

They vowed to work closely with relevant agencies to fulfil goals set under the scheme as scheduled.

A range of steps will be rolled out to lift two-way trade to 15 billion USD by 2020. At the same time, concrete ways will be developed to further agro-forestry-fisheries cooperation, especially in the settlement of issues related to fishermen and vessels encroaching each nation’s waters in a humanitarian and friendly spirit.

Turning attention to national defence-security links, both ministers consented to the implementation of the cooperation agreement signed between the two defence ministries on September 26, 2012 , and the Joint Declaration on the Thailand-Vietnam Security Vision for the 2012–2016 period signed last October.

They vowed to enhance the exchange of all-level delegations and maintain the mechanism of the Joint Working Group on Political and Security Cooperation’s meeting and joint patrols in waters.

Expressing delight at the close bilateral coordination at regional and global forums, particularly within ASEAN and the United Nations framework, they pledged to work closely together and with other members to materialise the ASEAN Community by 2015 and uphold the ASEAN’s central role in dealing with regional issues.

Touching on the East Sea , both host and guest reached consensus on close cooperation for regional peace, stability and security, including maritime security, safety and freedom in the East Sea . According to them, disputes must be settled by peaceful means in line with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

Minh and Tovichakchaikul committed to working together to formulate a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) soon.

The second meeting of this kind is scheduled for next year.

Meeting with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra the same day, Minh thanked the Thai Government and people for assisting the Vietnamese community integrate into the host country.

PM Yingluck highly valued the significance of the meeting, considering it as an important mechanism to bolster the bilateral strategic partnership.

She expressed her wish that both nations will make it easier for their people to travel and trade goods. She affirmed that Thailand will contribute efforts to peace, stability and maritime freedom in the East Sea while suggesting more meetings between ASEAN nations to reach the COC soon.-VNA