MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has extended his thanks to United States (US) President Joe Biden via video conference for America’s donation of Covid-19 vaccines.
This, as Duterte welcomed Biden to his first attendance in the 9th Asean-US Summit held virtually on Oct. 26.
“President Duterte welcomed President Biden to his first Asean-US Summit, noting the longstanding relations between Asean and the US,” a statement from the Office of the President read.
He said there is a need to “further strengthen bilateral, regional and international cooperation to ensure universal access to Covid-19 vaccines and medicines.”
Duterte also called for sustained political dialogue, economic engagement, and socio-cultural ties to further strengthen the Asean-US Strategic Partnership.
He asserted the importance of Asean Centrality even as he acknowledged the US’ “commitment to work with Asean, especially on maritime security and domain awareness issues.”
He said arrangements such as the Australia, United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS) trilateral security partnership “must complement and \not complicate our working methods for cooperation.”
Late last month, Duterte said he wanted to visit the US to personally thank their government for their Covid-19 vaccine donations.
“Ang bait ng America. Baka pupunta ako doon (America is so generous. I might go there just to thank the American government and the people,” he said in his Sept. 30 public address.
According to the White House, Biden will announce the intention of the US to provide up to USD40 million in new efforts to accelerate joint research, strengthen health system capacity, and develop the next generation of human capital in health through the US-Asean Health Futures initiative.
Meanwhile, Duterte also reaffirmed the importance of a peaceful and stable South China Sea and stressed that “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.”
Duterte enjoined members of the Asean to further strengthen cooperation in digital and human resource development – including in technical and vocational education and training – to hasten regional and global recovery from the pandemic.
During the 38th and 39th Asean Summits, Duterte renewed his call on his fellow Asean leaders to stay united in pursuing peace, stability, and prosperity in the South China Sea.
“We have come a long way in keeping the peace and promoting prosperity in our region. We must not allow those with diverging interests to make our efforts fail,” Duterte said.
He also encouraged Asean countries to translate their commitments into action regarding the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. (PNA)