Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (R) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a joint press conference at the presidential palace in Manila, the Philippines, July 27, 2013. Shinzo Abe arrived in Manila Friday night for a two-day official visit, the final stop of his three-nation southeast Asian tour which also took him to Malaysia and Singapore. (Xinhua/Robert Vinas)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Saturday to strengthen bilateral maritime cooperation, describing it as "a pillar of their strategic partnership."
In a statement released after the bilateral meeting in Malacanang, the presidential palace, Aquino said that he and Abe reviewed the security challenges that confront both nations.
Aquino thanked the Japanese government for helping enhance the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) by building multi- role vessels and by providing communications systems for their use.
Aquino also expressed gratitude for Japan's continuous support to the peace process between his government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Muslim rebel group in the country, and for extending assistance in critical areas, such as infrastructure development, transportation, connectivity, and disaster preparedness and response.
Aquino said he looked forward to the Commemorative Summit in Tokyo in December for the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship Cooperation.
Abe, in a separate statement, announced four initiatives for the Philippines, including joint development of the economy, promote maritime cooperation, strengthening assistance to southern Philippines, and strong promotion of people to people exchanges.
He confirmed Japan's assistance to the PCG by providing loan for the acquisition of 10 coast guard vessels.
He also presented to Aquino a very accurate topographical map of Mindanao which he said could be beneficial in developing the area.
Abe arrived in Manila Friday night for a two-day official visit, the final stop of his three-nation southeast Asian tour which also took him to Malaysia and Singapore.