Philippines, China coast guards meet
The Chinese and Philippine coast guards met for the first time on Friday and agreed to move forward on maritime cooperation, officials said, as relations between Beijing and Manila warm under President Rodrigo Duterte.
The two-day meeting in Manila on establishing a Joint Coast Guard Committee (JCGC) came just days after new images showed China had apparently installed defensive weapons on artificial islands in the hotly contested South China Sea.
In a joint statement, the coast guards said possible areas for cooperation included fighting drug trafficking and other maritime crimes, environmental protection and search and rescue.
“This is a milestone because it opened the communication lines between the two agencies involved in the (South China Sea),” Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Armand Balilo told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Balilo said territorial issues were not discussed, but the meeting was a “confidence-building measure” resulting from Mr. Duterte’s trip to China in October. —AFP
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