Duterte, Kerry discuss climate change, sea row during meeting

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE 1 2:55 p.m.)— President Rodrigo Duterte and United States Secretary of State John Kerry talked about maritime security and climate change in a meeting over lunch on Wednesday.

Kerry arrived at the Malacañan Palace for his courtesy call before noon. The two officials were scheduled to meet to discuss ways on how to strengthen the relationship between Manila and Washington.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Kerry’s meeting with Duterte over lunch was “interesting” as the two officials shared light moments.

“First it was a courtesy call, it was a very interesting meeting because they share common interests. They talked about motorcycles and hunting and Mr. Kerry talked about how he had a motorcycle and he had a funny incident regarding that,” Abella shared.

Abella also said the long-standing relationship between the two countries were affirmed as there are four million Filipinos in the US while there are about 500,000 Americans in the Philippines.
In particular, the two officials tackled common concerns such as terrorism, crimes, drugs, religious fanaticism and maritime security where they also came up with a menu of solutions. Also discussed were the Paris climate change deal and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or EDCA.

US commits $32M to Philippines

Abella said Kerry and Duterte agreed that “whatever works for the Philippines will be what will work.” He also disclosed that the US official committed $32 million in training and services to the Philippines.

Prior to his visit to the Palace, Kerry also held a joint press conference with Secretary of Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr. He then renewed the commitment of the US to work with the Philippines under the longest standing mutual defense treaty since his visit came a day after the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Kerry’s visit also came a week after a US congressional delegation paid a courtesy call on Duterte. He was so far the highest-ranking official to visit the country under the new administration.

Coincidentally, Malacañan is scheduled to convene the first National Security Council meeting under the Duterte administration where the members are expected to discuss the implications of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the South China Sea row.

RELATED: Duterte to convene security council after Kerry meet to tackle Hague ruling


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