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MANILA, Philippines – The United States, the Philippines, and Japan on Friday, September 22, reaffirmed their commitment to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea and East China Sea as part of continuing efforts to deepen their trilateral cooperation on various areas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko, and Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo held a trilateral meeting in New York on Friday, during the UN General Assembly High-Level Week.
“The three officials discussed ways to support economic resiliency and deepen trilateral cooperation on energy, infrastructure, and digital economy issues, and to enhance trilateral security cooperation, including on maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief efforts,” US Department of State Spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.
“The three officials reaffirmed their commitment to promoting peace and stability in the South and East China Seas,” Miller added.
He said the three countries also “committed to uphold our shared values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, and reaffirmed our shared vision, as equal and sovereign partners, for a free and open Indo-Pacific region that upholds international law.”
“The three countries will continue to call out behavior that is inconsistent with international law, including the PRC’s recent actions near Second Thomas Shoal that interfered with the Philippines’ lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation,” Miller said.
In August, tensions flared anew between the Philippines and China when Chinese Coast Guard vessels trailed, blocked, and then pointed water cannons toward Philippine ships on a resupply mission to an outpost in Ayungin Shoal (Second Thomas Shoal) in the South China Sea.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs said that during the September 22 meeting, the three officials “discussed possible activities for trilateral cooperation and will come up with a work plan.”
In relation to the trilateral meeting, Japanese Ambassador to Manila Kazuhiko Koshikawa said on X: “Our leaders stand as one to uphold multilateralism based on rule of law and stand firm against our common challenges. Unity of three countries serves as the foundation of FOIP.”
FOIP, which stands for Free and Open Indo-Pacific, is anchored on the promotion and establishment of the rule of law, freedom of navigation, and free trade; pursuit of economic prosperity; and commitment to peace and stability, according to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It was the fourth trilateral meeting of officials of the countries so far this year, and the second one in September alone.
Earlier in September, US Vice President Kamala Harris, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. held a trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In June, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Japanese National Security Advisor Akiba Takeo, and Philippine National Security Advisor Eduardo Año met in Tokyo, Japan. A month later, Blinken, former Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, and Manalo met in Jakarta. – Rappler.com