Singapore—President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday exchanged views with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they promoted an “active cooperation” in the areas of maintaining peace and infrastructure development in a bilateral meeting.
Minutes after the closing ceremony of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit here in Singapore, the two leaders met at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre, where Duterte expressed his eagerness to talk with the Japanese leader.
“I’m ready to talk anything about the Philippines and Japan,” Duterte said.
Abe, through his interpreter, expressed his gratitude to Duterte for mentioning his win on the presidential election of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, saying he is looking forward to further enhancing the relations of Japan and the Philippines.
“Thank you very much for your kind words about my victory in the most recent LDP presidential election,” the Japanese leader said, noting that working with Duterte is a “great pleasure.”
“I look forward to having a productive discussion with you on strengthening Japan-Philippines cooperation in the area of consolidation of peace as well as infrastructure development,” he added.
Also during the meeting, the prime minister extended Japan’s deepest condolences on the recent natural calamities that devastated the Philippines.
During the sidelines of the Asean summit before his dialogue with Abe, Duterte told reporters that he would discuss issues of mutual interest in the region, especially about the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, trade and commerce and the Korean peninsula.
At the 21st ASEAN-Japan Summit on Wednesday, Duterte thanked Japan for extending solidarity and aid due to Typhoon “Ompong” in September. According to the President, other Southeast Asian countries that are vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters must concern themselves with disaster resiliency and response.
“Nations, especially those in Southeast Asia, continue to be vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. This is one area of major concern shared by both ASEAN and Japan,” said Duterte in his speech, citing Japan’s resilience and ability to build back stronger communities.
Duterte said Japan continues to make inroads and break new ground for cooperation with the 10-nation regional bloc as it actively engages the ASEAN member-states, particularly in human resource development and policy developments in public health, labor, social welfare, and media information literacy.
“ASEAN-Japan engagements likewise continue to broaden through collaboration in innovation and in helping micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs connect to the global value chain,” he said.
The President also noted the greater security cooperation between ASEAN and Japan in counter-terrorism and a wider support for a drug-free region.
“The Philippines appreciates Japan’s commitment to ASEAN centrality. As active partners for greater peace, security and stability in Southeast Asia, we remain open to discussions on the regional structure, which include the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy, with a view to enhancing ASEAN centrality,” he added.
Apart from Abe, Duterte also had a meeting with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the first day of the 33rd Asean.
The Japanese Prime Minister has been to the Philippines several times for state and working visits. His recent visit to the country was in November 2017 when he attended the 31st Asean Summit and its related meetings as Japan play as one of the dialogue partners of the 10-nation bloc.
In January 2017, Abe pledged a total of ¥1 trillion worth of development assistance and private sector investments to create business opportunities in the country for the next five years.
Duterte visited Japan the following year, bringing home $6 billion worth of investment pledges.
The leader of Papua New Guinea, host of this year’s APEC summit, urged respect for international trade rules by “countries large and small” as spats between the US and China threatened to overshadow the gathering.
As leaders from Asian Pacific nations prepared to fly in to Port Moresby for their annual meeting, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill on Friday appeared to call his guests to order on damaging trade rows.
“Smaller economies, countries like Papua New Guinea, place considerable reliance on international trade and especially the international trade rules,” O’Neill said.
“We suffer when rules are broken or ignored and we benefit when rules are followed by all countries, large and small,” he added.
The world’s top two economies have been engaged in a spiraling trade conflict that economists have warned could be catastrophic for the global economy.
Washington and Beijing have slapped tit-for-tat tariffs worth billions of dollars on each other’s goods and both sides have threatened to escalate the conflict if needed.
China is pushing a trade deal with other Asian powers like Japan and India—a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—after US President Donald Trump pulled out of the rival Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The TPP is still alive even without Washington—and will come into effect in December—but RCEP, if realized, will be the world’s biggest trade deal.
Beijing had hoped to have the meat of the deal done by the end of this year, but the timetable has now slipped to 2019.
Foreign ministers meeting ahead of the APEC summit, which kicks off on Saturday, failed to agree immediately on a joint statement amid disagreements over language on reforming the World Trade Organization.
The United States is thought to be pushing for tough language criticizing the WTO and urging root-and-branch reform but appears to have run into opposition.
O’Neill seemed to come to the WTO’s defense, saying that Papua New Guinea was “playing an increasing role, like everyone else, in international forums such as the WTO.”
“We must continue that. We must continue to benefit from such arrangements,” the prime minister said.
Duterte arrived in Papua New Guinea on Friday to attend the APEC Leaders Meeting.
Duterte, the first Filipino leader to visit Papua New Guinea, was welcomed by Papua New Guinea Chief of the Diplomatic Protocol Ambassador Morea Veratau, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for
Treasury Charles Abel, Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato, APEC Minister Justin Tkatchenko, and Papua New Guinea Ambassador to the Philippines Nawi Bokuik.
The members of the President’s official delegation include Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr., Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Trade Secretary
Ramon Lopez, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo and Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar.
Duterte was set to meet at least 1,000 members of the Filipino community in a gathering in the afternoon.
Papua New Guinea is home to over 40,000 Filipinos and over 200 Philippine companies operating in the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. With PNAREAD: Duterte: Power naps keep me energized
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