Vietnam and Indonesia vow to settle fishing violations

HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam and Indonesia have pledged to work together to resolve fishing violations in the South China Sea as the two countries seek to boost their bilateral trade.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, speaking to reporters Tuesday at a joint briefing with his Vietnamese counterpart, said the two countries would strengthen their partnership, cooperating particularly on fishing and other maritime issues.

"In maritime and fishing cooperation, we agreed on how to conclude the ongoing issues in this regard," she said via a translator. "We have also agreed to try together to complete the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone, because the demarcation of the EEZ between our two countries can enhance the interests of our two peoples as well as ensure security between our two countries."

Since 2014, Indonesia has destroyed several hundred fishing vessels, most of them from Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, for violating its waters. The government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has taken a hard-line stance against illegal fishing, partly driven by the need to show its neighbors that it is in control of its vast territory of 17,000 islands.

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said the two sides agreed to establish a mechanism to handle fishing violations in line with both countries' laws.

"On our part, Vietnam will continue to strengthen education and information so as to raise awareness of our fishermen not to violate other countries' waters," he said.

Marsudi said trade and investment between the two countries have seen positive developments, especially after the establishment of the strategic partnership in 2013.

Bilateral trade stood at $6.8 billion last year and the two countries are targeting to bring it up to $10 billion in the next few years, she said.

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