A Vision for Peace and Stability
New York, Sept. 23, 2023 – In a significant diplomatic move, the Philippines, the United States, and Japan have announced plans to craft a comprehensive “work plan” aimed at advancing their trilateral cooperation. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) unveiled this ambitious initiative on Saturday as the three nations united to explore innovative ways to bolster peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Trilateral Talks Amidst UN General Assembly
Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, alongside US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko, spearheaded the second trilateral ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. This high-stakes gathering on September 23 brought together key leaders from these nations to strategize on shaping the future of their collaborative efforts.
Crafting a Roadmap for Cooperation
DFA Spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza revealed that the ministers, during their deliberations, engaged in extensive discussions. Their primary objective was to meticulously outline a concrete “work plan.” This comprehensive blueprint will play a pivotal role, serving as the solid foundation for a diverse range of activities. These initiatives will collectively work to deepen the trilateral cooperation among the three nations.
Standing Against International Law Violations
The US State Department underscored a shared commitment among the officials to “continue to call out behavior that is inconsistent with international law.” This includes a sharp condemnation of recent actions by China near Ayungin Shoal, which have infringed upon the Philippines’ lawful exercise of high seas freedom of navigation.
Strengthening Security Cooperation
The ministers also sought avenues to enhance their countries’ partnership in critical areas such as maritime domain awareness, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief efforts. On a unified front, they reaffirmed their dedication to upholding shared values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights. Furthermore, they recommitted to their shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region that adheres to international law.
A Holistic Approach to Cooperation
Beyond security concerns, the leaders delved into strategies for supporting economic resiliency. They also explored ways to deepen their engagement on critical issues such as energy, infrastructure development, and the digital economy.
A Unified Vision for the Indo-Pacific
In his remarks, Secretary Blinken expressed the United States eagerness to strengthen the partnership, emphasizing its pivotal role in
“maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and fostering economic resilience for the common prosperity of our people.”
He asserted that trilateral collaboration can bring substantial benefits to their nations and partners across the region.
Japan’s Call for Multilayered Collaboration
Foreign Minister Kamikawa placed a strong emphasis on the critical importance of “multilayered collaboration with allies and like-minded countries” as the linchpin in upholding a rules-based order. This sentiment resonated deeply, especially in light of Japan’s heightened concerns about the “recent severe strategic environment” in the region, notably including the situation in the South China Sea.
Building on a Foundation of Dialogue
This latest trilateral meeting, held on the heels of the September talks, builds upon the diplomatic discussions between President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., US Vice President Kamala Harris, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. It serves as a compelling testament to the enduring commitment of these nations. They are steadfast in their dedication to not only strengthen their bonds but also to collectively promote a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Continuation of a Growing Relationship
The US State Department firmly affirmed that these three nations will continue to meet trilaterally. Their shared aim is to “enhance this growing relationship” while diligently working towards promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific. This steadfast commitment underscores their unwavering resolve to foster regional stability and prosperity through unity, cooperation, and collaboration.