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Marcos to meet with Biden, Kishida in April

By: Frances Mangosing - | March 18,2024 - 10:06 AM


President Marcos —AFP PHOTOS Joe Biden Fumio Kishida

President Marcos —AFP PHOTOS                                       Joe Biden                                                                                    Fumio Kishida

The Philippines, the United States, and Japan are finalizing plans for the first official meeting between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., US President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington next month.

This meeting aims to strengthen trilateral cooperation among the three allies amidst China’s growing assertiveness. Scheduled for mid-April, the meeting will coincide with Kishida’s visit for the US-Japan Summit,a government official familiar with the matter told the Inquirer.

Kishida, the first Japanese leader to travel to the United States for a state visit since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2015, is scheduled to hold talks with Biden on April 10, then address a joint session of the US Congress the next day, according to news reports.

The first-of-its-kind standalone summit of the three leaders is expected to focus on bolstering economic and security ties.

Mr. Marcos has met both leaders separately in the past during his official visits and on the sidelines of multilateral gatherings.

In November last year the President also hosted Kishida, who was the first Japanese leader to address both chambers of Congress in a special session.

A series of bilateral meetings between officials from Manila and Washington are expected to take place during Mr. Marcos’ trip to follow up on the outcomes from his visit to the United States last year, according to the same official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to lack of authority to speak to the press.

Biden welcomed Mr. Marcos in the White House last year as part of a four-day trip to Washington, where they discussed ways to further expand the Philippine-US alliance, including the strengthening of their defense cooperation.

Among the agreements last year were the planned conclusion of a key intelligence sharing pact and the adoption of bilateral defense guidelines aimed at institutionalizing “key bilateral priorities, mechanisms and processes to deepen alliance cooperation and interoperability across land, sea, air, space and cyberspace.”

The foreign ministers of the three countries—Secretary Enrique Manalo of the Philippines, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa of Japan—were supposed to meet in Manila this week ahead of the April summit. But the official said this would no longer take place due to “scheduling concerns.”

Blinken, however, would be on his second visit to Manila on Monday and Tuesday to discuss ways to advance the partnership of both countries, particularly on the economic sphere, the Department of Foreign Affairs said last week. His visit follows a week after the United States sent a high-level trade and investment mission to the Philippines.

The national security advisers of the three nations—Eduardo Año, Jake Sullivan of the United States and Takeo Akiba of Japan—met in Tokyo last year for their inaugural meeting, where they agreed to strengthen their defense cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the region amid China’s increasing aggressiveness.

‘Taiwan emergency’

Both US-allied Philippines and Japan have their respective territorial disputes with China, with Manila facing Beijing’s excessive claims on almost the entire South China Sea, while Tokyo is dealing with China’s repeated incursions into Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

A reciprocal access agreement between Manila and Tokyo, which is currently under negotiation, will allow bigger military exercises between the two countries and greater access to each other’s bases in the future.

The Philippine Marine Corps recently sent a small contingent to observe the Japan-US military exercise Iron Fist in Kyushu and Okinawa regions in Japan, which according to news reports, simulated a “Taiwan emergency.”

Last year, the Philippines granted the United States more access to its military bases through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The two countries are expected to stage one of their largest ever military exercises in the Philippines next month.

The Philippines has been shoring up alliances with like-minded countries since Mr. Marcos came into office amid rising tensions with China over the West Philippine Sea.

The President, while in Germany on an official visit last week, said he looked to “strengthen the cooperation” with Washington and Tokyo.

READ MORE: Marcos to meet Blinken next week to discuss defense and economic ties

“We hope the intention is to continue to plan, to strengthen the cooperation between the three countries—the United States, Japan and the Philippines. And we will perhaps formalize it but, at this point, that’s part of the discussion that we will be having to exactly what will be put in any agreement,” he told reporters.


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TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Japan, Joe Biden, USA

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