Philippines, Australia enhance defense relations
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with his Australian counterpart, Sen. Lisa Reynolds, during her first visit to the country as minister for defense on Thursday.
STAR/ File
Philippines, Australia enhance defense relations
Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines  — The Philippines and Australia have agreed to enhance defense relations, as they emphasized the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with his Australian counterpart, Sen. Lisa Reynolds, during her first visit to the country as minister for defense on Thursday.

“The two ministers also exchanged views on developments in the region and agreed on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea as well as compliance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” a Department of National Defense statement read.

Both defense chiefs said they were satisfied that the two countries have been able to sustain and enhance defense relations despite the COVID-19 pandemic, including counterterrorism cooperation.

“It was highlighted that preparations for Philippines-Australia activities next year have continued, and that such activities will be conducted once conditions allow, subject to the approval of Philippine and Australian authorities,” the statement added.

Lorenzana also expressed appreciation for Australia’s AUD$1-million support for the expansion of the infectious diseases ward of the Victoriano Luna Medical Center and AUD$2 million worth of donations in medical and personal protective equipment for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The support is under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Program between the two countries.   – Helen Flores       

DELFIN LORENZANA
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