US welcomes PH offer to host strategic dialogue in 2018

In a joint statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday, both sides reaffirmed the importance of regular high-level consultations.

The dialogue, the 7th of its kind, ran for two days from November 30 to December 1 in Washington DC.

Senior officials tackled wide variety of issues and reaffirmed commitment to deepen collaboration in areas including maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, cybersecurity, countering transnational drug trafficking, countering terrorism, and improving drug prevention and treatment services, as well as combating wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

The senior officials further pledged to continue working together to effectively eliminate human trafficking.

The US and Philippine delegations emphasized the importance of the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms.

For its part, the United States congratulated the Philippines on defeating ISIS-supported terrorists in Mindanao and vowed to continue to support the fight against terrorism and the rehabilitation of Marawi.

Both sides also noted the substantive discussions on cooperating in areas such as science and technology, agriculture and fisheries, health, and environment.

They also welcomed the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) discussions held on November 29, and “look forward to more robust discussions on ways to expand free, fair and reciprocal bilateral trade,” including through exploring a potential Free Trade Agreement.

The Bilateral Strategic Dialogue is a key mechanism for discussing the full range of political, security, and economic cooperation between the United States and the Philippines.

For this year, four working groups convened to develop action plans for expanding the two states’ joint partnership on defense and security; economics, development, and prosperity; regional and global diplomatic engagement; and rule of law and law enforcement.

The joint statement issued after the meeting of President Donald Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte on November 13 provided the guidance for the Dialogue.

For this seventh US-Philippines BSD, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Helvey co-led the US delegation.

Meanwhile, DFA Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo and Department of National Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David co-led the Philippine delegation. (Joyce Ann L. Rocamora/PNA)

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