MANILA, March 18 (PNA) — Acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said Saturday he considers his meeting with Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop as fruitful.
Manalo said in a text message that he discussed with the visiting minister the status of Philippine-Australian relations, which were elevated to the status of Comprehensive Partnership in 2015.
Both officials exchanged views on the strong and robust relations between the two countries, characterized by frequent exchanges of high-level officials of the two sides, dynamic exchanges between defense officials, robust economic relations, strong development cooperation, and broad exchanges in education and disaster mitigation and risk reduction capacity building, among others, according to a news release from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The two officials also discussed significant regional developments, including the West Philippine Sea.
Manalo has reiterated that the Philippines is firm in its commitments towards international principles and norms that contribute to peace and stability in the area. He also thanked Australia for its contribution to advocating a rules-based order in the South China Sea.
Both officials acknowledged that the waters of the South China Sea have served as a valuable link between the Philippines and Australia for many centuries.
Manalo said he and Bishop look forward to convening the 5th Philippines – Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) possibly in December, and other bilateral mechanisms that further enhance Philippine-Australian relations, which reached 70 years in 2016.
The Australian minister also visited President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City on Friday (March 17) to discuss bilateral relations in various areas, including political, economic and people-to-people cooperation.
More than 200,000 Filipinos in various professional fields live and work in Australia and they contribute to the development of both countries.
Manalo said Bishop’s visit “is an affirmation of Australia’s strong commitment to the Philippines as a Comprehensive Partner”.