MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte discussed trade, security, the South China Sea and the North Korea nuclear and ballistic missiles threat during separate bilateral meetings Sunday evening with leaders of Australia and Brunei Darussalam.
Duterte welcomed Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei by saying “we are happy, very much happy to see you. And I remember the last time I was there in your anniversary and I was proud I was one of those invited by you.”
“And I consider it an honor for my country and for myself that you have recognized the importance of our mutual relations, the strong bonds between our two countries,” he added.
The President recognized the strong relations between the Philippines and Brunei and vowed to further strengthen it in the years ahead.
Duterte cited Sultan Bolkiah’s “extraordinary service to humanity” extending his gratitude for Brunei’s help when the Philippines was struck by disasters.
He pledged to help fellow ASEAN countries in distress, particularly regarding threats of terrorism and the security concerns in the Korean Peninsula.
Duterte said it must be resolved through dialogue and must not affect the lives of people in the neighbouring countries, he said. He also noted that China holds the key in resolving the rising tension in the Korean Peninsula.
Duterte also met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and committed to further deepen the Philippine-Australia relations. Among the issues discussed by the two leaders include the South China Sea, particularly the crafting of a binding code of conduct, extremism, illegal drugs as well as trade and commerce.
Turnbull praised the President for his stance in the South China Sea issue and also for his administration’s success in crushing ISIS-linked Maute group in Marawi City.
Sea piracy in the Sulu Sea was also tackled with both leaders promising greater security cooperation. They also talked about regional trade, with the Australian leader mentioning his country’s huge potential especially because of its enormous market.