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Sea feud, North Korea tackled in Duterte's meeting with Brunei, Australia

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, and his partner Cielito Avancena, center, poses with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, left, before the start of the Special Gala Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN in Manila, Philippines on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. AP Photo/Aaron Favila-POOL
MANILA, Philippines — The tension in the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea maritime dispute were raised during President Rodrigo Duterte’s bilateral meeting with the leaders of Brunei and Australia.
 
Duterte met separately with Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit Sunday night.
 
In his meeting with Bolkiah, his first engagement with a fellow leader after he arrived from Vietnam, Duterte emphasized that the tensions in the Korean Peninsula could be diffused through dialogue.
 
“It must be resolved through dialogue and must not affect the lives of people in the neighboring countries,” Duterte was quoted by a Malacañang statement as saying.
 
 
Duterte said China holds the key to resolving the rising tension in the Korean Peninsula.
 
North Korea has been testing a ballistic missile, raising concerns among its neighbors who called it a threat to regional peace. Under the leadership of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, the rogue state boosted its nuclear capabilities despite the economic sanctions imposed on it by the United Nations.
 
ASEAN foreign ministers have raised concerns over North Korea’s activities and called for a “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula in a peaceful manner."
 
Duterte also assured Bolkiah that he is ready to help fellow ASEAN countries in distress including those facing terrorist threats. He also promised to further strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and Brunei.
 
The Philippine leader also praised Bolkiah for his "extraordinary service to humanity" and thanked him for the assistance to disaster-hit areas. He thanked Bolkiah for hosting a number of Filipinos in Brunei and treating them as his own.
 
“I consider it an honor for my country and for myself that you (Bolkiah) have recognized the importance of our mutual relations, the strong bonds between our two countries," Duterte said.

Meeting with Australian leader

Duterte also met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and discussed key regional issues including the South China Sea maritime row. 
 
A Malacañang statement said Turnbull had praised the president for his stance on the South China Sea issue. The president has said that claimants in the dispute could not afford to go to war.
 
“We’re also concerned about what’s happening in the South China Sea - the continued build-up of military installations,” Duterte said.
 
The Australian leader also lauded the Philippines’ victory against Islamic State-tied Maute terrorists who laid siege to Marawi City.  
 
“The leaders talked about the crafting of a binding code of conduct for claimants, extremism, illegal drugs and trade and commerce,” the Malacañang statement said.  
 
Duterte and Turnbull also discussed sea piracy in the Sulu Sea and vowed to strengthen their cooperation to address the threat.
 
 
They also talked about regional trade with Turnbull mentioning his country's huge potential because of its enormous market.
 
Duterte promised to further deepen the relationship between the Philippines and Australia.
 
“I assure you that the relations between the two countries are strong as it has always been, no problem with that. And we continue to cooperate in our alliances,” he said.
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