MANILA, Aug. 9 — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano expressed gratitude for the country’s successful hosting of the week-long 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in a press briefing held on Tuesday in Manila.
“First of all, I think it was a very productive and constructive dialogue, conference, and meeting… I think we achieved everything we set up to achieve in this meeting given the expectations,” Cayetano said.
The PH top diplomat added that even claimant-states said peace and stability are paramount and that ASEAN member-states recognized the positive direction the ministerial meeting has taken.
“We discussed developments in the South China Sea and noted that the situation in the area has become more stable than in the past years. We adopted the Framework of the Code of Conduct (CPC) and tasked senior officials of ASEAN and China to start consultations and negotiations on the COC at the earliest opportunity,” the current ASEAN Chairman’s opening statement reads, a copy of which was distributed to the local and international media.
Cayetano mentioned that the Joint Communique, which included discussion on the issue of South China Sea, is a testament of ASEAN centrality where member-states decide on consensus.
In the same briefing, Secretary Cayetano stated that the Philippines is a friend to all and an enemy to none as he reiterated the country’s pursuit of independent foreign policy.
“We are not pro-China, pro-US, pro-Japan. We are pro-Philippines and we are pro-ASEAN,” Cayetano emphasized saying that “we are a sovereign nation and we will decide what is good for us and what strategy is good for us.”
Also Cayetano disclosed updates on Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono’s courtesy call on PRRD at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
The 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Manila is Minister Kono’s international debut.
“We know it is just his 5th day in his new capacity as Foreign Minister (August 8) but we are very thankful that he decided to attend the conference to participate very actively to articulate Japan’s positions in different issues,” he said.
Cayetano said that Minister Kono had a very good, frank meeting with the President, which exceeded the allotted time. Anti-terrorism and Japanese support top the agenda of the discussion.
PRRD took the opportunity to thank Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his support in anti-terrorism and Marawi, and Japan’s infrastructure projects in the Philippines which the two countries are working together. They also discussed the possibility of President Duterte visiting Japan and Prime Minister Abe’s coming to the Philippines in November for the ASEAN Summit.