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Locsin to raise sea row, vaccine access in ASEAN meet

Pia Lee Brago - The Philippine Star
ASEAN
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. will bring up the Philippines’ priorities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during a series of foreign minister level meetings, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
US Mission photo

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. will raise equitable access to vaccines, pandemic recovery and the South China Sea issue at the 54th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AFMM) and Related Meetings to be held virtually from Aug. 2 to 6.

Locsin will bring up the Philippines’ priorities in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations during a series of foreign minister level meetings, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

Aside from the 54th AFMM, other foreign minister meetings are the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting Interface with ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights Representatives, Meeting of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Commission, 23rd ASEAN Political-Security Community Council Meeting, 29th ASEAN Coordinating Council Meeting, Post Ministerial Conferences with Dialogue Partners, 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, 11th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and 28th ASEAN Regional Forum.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will participate in five virtual ministerial meetings related to the ASEAN from Aug. 2 to 6. These will be the US-ASEAN, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Mekong-US Partnership and Friends of the Mekong ministerial meetings.

During the meetings, Blinken will engage with leaders from across the Indo-Pacific on pressing regional and international issues. He will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to ASEAN centrality and to working with ASEAN and international partners to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and support economic recovery.

He will also raise the importance of taking bold action to address the climate crisis.

The State Department said Blinken will reiterate that the “US stands with the international community in defense of freedom of the seas and international law, including UNCLOS.”

He will also express concerns about the military coup in Myanmar and call on the ASEAN to take joint action to urge the military to end the violence, release all those unjustly detained and restore Myanmar’s path to democracy.

Search and rescue

Meanwhile, the Philippines and the United States signed an agreement that provides delimitations on the search and rescue regions of the two countries.

Locsin and US embassy Chargé d’affaires John Law signed the Philippine-United States Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (AMSAR) Agreement on Friday.

The AMSAR agreement fosters stronger bilateral cooperation in the field of maritime and aeronautical search and rescue and enhances both countries’ effectiveness in assisting persons, vessels, aircraft or other craft in distress.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Foreign Affairs, with support from the Philippine Coast Guard, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, National Coast Watch Center and the Department of National Defense negotiated the AMSAR agreement from Sept. 25 to 26, 2018.

The signing of the agreement stands as proof of the Philippines’ commitment to upholding its obligations under international conventions and treaties. It will help boost the Philippines’ capability to conduct search and rescue operations and save lives.

The DFA said the signing of the agreement, witnessed by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III who was in Manila for a visit, and Vice Admiral Eduardo Fabricante of the Philippine Coast Guard, is another milestone in Philippine-US bilateral relations celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

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