The newly crafted Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS) trilateral security partnership should not complicate the working methods for cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the United States, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Wednesday.
In his virtual attendance to the 9th ASEAN-United States Summit, President Duterte reaffirmed the country’s stance on the strategic importance of a peaceful and stable South China Sea, stressing, “all stakeholders must exercise self-restraint to avoid untoward incidents that may further complicate the situation”.
He said countries must “work together towards the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”.
Sustained political dialogue, economic engagement and socio-cultural ties are needed to further strengthen the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership, the President stressed.
Citing the rapidly changing “regional landscape and seascape,” President Duterte asserted the importance and need for ASEAN Centrality even as he acknowledged the United States’ “commitment to work with ASEAN, especially on maritime security and domain awareness issues”.
Tackling the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino leader expressed appreciation for the United States’ generous offer of vaccines for the region, including the Philippines.
To defeat the pandemic, he suggested that bilateral, regional and international cooperation must be strengthened to ensure universal access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.
President Duterte welcomed President Joe Biden to his first participation to the ASEAN-US Summit, underscoring the longstanding relations between ASEAN and the US. PND