Duterte, Abe meet, tackle peace and infrastructure initiatives

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PRESIDENT Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pose for a photo prior to their bilateral meeting at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore on November 15, 2018. — PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO/KARL NORMAN ALONZO

By Camille A. Aguinaldo, Reporter

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held a bilateral meeting on Thursday on the sidelines of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore and discussed cooperation between the two countries on peace and infrastructure.

In a statement issued on Thursday evening, Malacañang said the two leaders met after the closing ceremony of the ASEAN Summit at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore.

“The Palace is confident that this ‘golden age’ of the Philippine-Japan relations, which is a result of the Duterte administration’s cautious, pragmatic, diplomatic yet independent foreign policy, would continue to yield great benefits for the country and improve the lives of our people,” said presidential spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo in a separate statement on Friday.

The Palace official said Japan reaffirmed its support for the peace process in Mindanao given the passage of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. Mr. Abe also reaffirmed Japan’s continued contribution to the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

In a statement by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan said it is also preparing for the opening of a Consulate General in Davao City, Mr. Duterte’s hometown.

Japan’s funding in the North South Commuter railway in Metro Manila and the rehabilitation of the MRT-3 were also discussed, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Mr. Panelo said both leaders also discussed the South China Sea issue, “during which PRRD stressed the Philippines’ commitment to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight, freedom of commerce and other lawful activities, exercise of self-restraint, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.”