Duterte thanks Australian PM for UN manifestation vs Beijing’s sea claims
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte thanked the Australian government for its manifestation before the United Nations affirming the Arbitral Award on the South China Sea territorial dispute.
In a statement Monday, Malacañang said Duterte and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had an “open and productive” telephone conversation over a variety of issues including maritime security.
The Palace said Duterte “welcomed Australia’s interest to enhance cooperation with ASEAN on maritime security, countering marine plastic debris, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity.”
The President also “thanked the Government of Australia for its formal manifestation before the United Nations affirming the Arbitral Award on the South China Sea issue.”
“We consider Australia a close partner in upholding international law, including UNCLOS, and in promoting maritime security,” Duterte was quoted as saying in the Palace press statement.
In a letter to the United Nations in July, the Australian Government said China’s claims in the disputed waters were “without legal basis.”
Beijing claims almost the entire South China Sea, including parts of Philippine territory. But a 2016 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) invalidated China’s ambitious nine-dash line feature that virtually owns the entire body of water.
Duterte likewise took the opportunity to thank Morrison for Australia’s assistance for the victims of typhoons Rolly and Ulysses and for the country’s COVID19 response.
“He (Duterte) also welcomed Australia’s pledge of support for ASEAN’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, citing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) as key frameworks that could help boost economic recovery and growth in the region,” the Malacañang statement read.
Further, Duterte stressed that the Philippines looks forward to the adoption of a Plan of Action to further implement the Joint Declaration of the Philippines-Australia Comprehensive Partnership.
For his part, Morrison committed to further strengthen Australia-Philippines cooperation and partnership on areas of mutual interest.
“Prime Minister Morrison welcomed continuing developments that showed the value and strength of Philippines-Australia ties,” the Palace said. [ac]