By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
SINGAPORE — President Rodrigo Duterte discussed cooperation in the areas of peace and infrastructure with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Thursday evening.
In a bilateral meeting after the closing ceremony of the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, Duterte told the Japanese leader that he is open to discussing anything about their respective countries.
“I’m ready to talk — anything about the Philippines and Japan,” Duterte told Abe whom he last met in a year ago when he went to Tokyo.
The prime minister expressed his gratitude to Duterte for congratulating him on winning the presidential election of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party. Abe said he is looking forward to further enhancing the relations of Japan and the Philippines.
“Thank you very much for your kind words about my victory in the most recent LDP presidential election,” Abe told Duterte.
“Now that I have another opportunity to continue working with you…and so it is a great pleasure for me,” he added.
“I look forward to having a productive discussion with you on strengthening Japan-Philippines cooperation in the area of consolidation of peace as well as infrastructure development,” he continued.
Before their dialogue, Duterte said in a doorstop interview that he would convey to Abe issues of mutual interest in the region, especially about the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, trade and commerce, and the situation in the Korean peninsula. Both leaders denounced last year North Korea’s nuclear warfare.
Also during the meeting, Abe extended Japan’s deepest condolences on the recent natural calamities that had hit the Philippines.
“I once again would like to express my condolences for your loss as well as those who lost their lives in the multiple typhoon disasters in the Philippines,” Abe said.
Duterte then expressed his gratitude for the assistance that the Japanese government had extended to the Philippines over the years.