MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte met the leaders of Brunei Darussalam and Australia in separate bilateral meetings Sunday evening discussing trade, security, the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula issue.
Duterte told Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah: “I will begin by welcoming your here in Manila. 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.
Duterte recognized the strong relations between the Philippines and Brunei and vowed to further strengthen these in the years ahead.
He also praised Bolkiah for his “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.
It must be resolved through dialogue and must not affect the lives of people in the neighboring countries, he said. He also noted that China holds the key in resolving the rising tension in the Korean Peninsula.
Duterte also thanked Bolkiah for hosting of Filipinos in Brunei and treating them well.
Following his meeting with Bolkiah, Duterte met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, committing to deepen relations between the two countries.
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 Duterte for his stance in the South China Sea issue and for his crushing the 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.
Accompanying the President were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go, Australia’s ambassador to the Philippines Amanda Gorely, Press Secretary Mark Simkin, National Security Adviser Justin Bassi, Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary Francis Adamson, and Chief of Staff Peter Woolcott were also present for the Australian side.