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Philippines, Vietnam agree to forge strategic partnership

MANILA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung agreed Wednesday to work toward forging of a strategic partnership and to further enhance maritime and defense cooperation.

Dung, who is on a three-day working visit here, was received by Aquino at Malacanang, the presidential palace.

Aquino said at a press conference that he and Vietnamese Prime Minister had productive discussions on how to further bilateral relations. They also discussed how to enhance confidence building, defense capabilities, and interoperability in addressing security challenges.

"We discussed opportunities available for tourism cooperation, such as cruise tourism development," Aquino said.

Aquino and Dung also agreed to increase mutual trade to three billion U.S. dollars by 2016.

Dung, for his part, said he and Aquino reviewed bilateral cooperation which is growing strongly.

"We also reaffirm that maritime and ocean cooperation is a pillar in bilateral relations and agree to continue frequent exchange of views and coordination," he said.

The two leaders also talked about cooperation in economy, trade, investment and other areas.

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