Duterte to intensify defense cooperation with Malaysia

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President Rodrigo R. Duterte and Malaysia Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad pose for a photo before discussing matters on both countries' mutual interests during a meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Perdana Putra, Putrajaya on July 16, 2018. -- KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

President Rodrigo R. Duterte has committed to intensifying Manila’s defense and security cooperation with the Malaysian government to address terrorist threats and terrorism activities in the ASEAN region following his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, July 16, Malacañang said.

The Palace also said the President was set to arrive in Manila on Monday evening after his working visit to Malaysia, which was preceded by his attendance at the fight of Senator and boxing champ Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao last Sunday at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is grateful to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for the invitation to visit Kuala Lumpur and to meet the Prime Minister to discuss matters of mutual interest,” the Palace said in a statement.

Mr. Duterte, the Palace also said, “renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level.”

During the bilateral meeting, Mr. Duterte “pointed out the need to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crime such as piracy and armed robbery at the sea and the illegal drug trade.”

Mr. Duterte likewise expressed his appreciation for Malaysia’s sustained support for maintaining peace and development in Mindanao.

President Duterte and Prime Minister Mahathir “stressed the importance of working closely together bilaterally and at the ASEAN to achieve shared aspirations of greater peace, progress and prosperity for the Philippines and Malaysia, and greater stability and security in the region.”