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Philippine, US, Japan diplomats gearing up for April summit

PHOTO FROM PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD

Diplomats from the Philippines, United States and Japan have agreed to do advance work on potential cooperation in defense, cyber-security, critical minerals and economic security ahead of a summit at the White House in April, the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo said on Tuesday.

“The three parties agreed to lay the foundation for a successful and productive inaugural trilateral summit in Washington, DC in April 2024, which (Philippine Foreign Affairs) Undersecretary Maria Theresa P. Lazaro said would be a historic meeting,” the embassy said, citing the foreign ministers’ meeting on March 21.

US President Joseph R. Biden is set to host Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. at a summit in Washington on April 11 to discuss economic ties and issues in the Indo-Pacific region.

Ms. Lazaro told her foreign counterparts that their countries should have “the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific at the forefront.”

She had met with Japanese Senior Deputy Minister Funakoshi Takehiro and US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell in Tokyo to discuss strengthening trade and geopolitical issues as well as the safety of seafarers in the Red Sea amid attacks by Houthi rebels.

In his visit to Manila last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the three-way summit is a very important platform for peace. “(It) is not designed against anyone, but in service of realizing a common vision for the future to the benefit of people in all of our countries,” he told a news briefing on March 19.

Ties between the Philippines and China have soured amid repeated spats over disputed features within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, and Manila has accused China’s coast guard of a policy of aggression. — John Victor D. Ordonez

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