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PH, US, Japan to boost cooperation

Metro Manila, September 25 ------ The Philippines, the United States, and Japan discussed possible activities to strengthen their trilateral cooperation amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region. Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Enrique Manalo, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, and Foreign Minister of Japan Kamikawa Yoko met on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York and held a “fruitful” discussion on trilateral cooperation. DFA spokesperson Teresita Daza in a message to reporters said that “The Ministers discussed possible activities for trilateral cooperation and will come up with a work plan.”

In his address, Blinken said the three countries saw eye-to-eye on the strengthening of ties in a bid to maintain peace and stability in the region. “I think all three countries believe strongly that our collaboration, not only on a bilateral basis but on a trilateral basis, can produce very positive benefits not only for our countries but also for other countries and partners in the region and beyond,” Blinken said Saturday. Kamikawa stressed the importance of promoting “multilayered collaboration” with allies and like-minded nations to uphold order and rule of law. “Based on the recent severe strategic environment including the situation in the South China Sea, the three Ministers concurred to further strengthen coordination among the three countries and promote the materialization of the trilateral cooperation,” Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday.

Earlier this month, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., US Vice President Kamala Harris, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio met in Jakarta, Indonesia to tackle maritime security in the South China Sea. Talk of strengthening cooperation between the three countries comes amid rising tensions in the South China Sea. This is in large part due to China’s escalating aggression within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Some incidents include China’s use of a military-grade laser and water cannons on Philippine Coast Guard vessels, and the eastern militia’s dangerous maneuvers which put Filipino lives at risk. On Sunday, the Chinese Coast Guard installed floating barriers in the Scarborough Shoal in the West Philippine Sea, preventing Filipino fishing vessels from entering the area.

Just a week before the barrier incident, Manila accused Beijing of harvesting and destroying corals in Rozul Reef and Escoda Shoal, both within the Philippines’ EEZ, after Chinese militia vessels were spotted lingering over the disputed waters. China has denied these accusations.



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