President Duterte and US Defense Secretary Austin Agree To Boost Alliance vs Pandemic, Illegal Drugs

President Duterte and US Defense Secretary Austin agreed to boost their alliance against coronavirus pandemic and illegal drugs.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin have agreed on the two countries strengthening their alliance, particularly in addressing the coronavirus pandemic and curbing illegal drugs.

President Rodrigo Duterte and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
Photo: PCOO

Malacañang said in a statement that President Duterte received Secretary Austin hours after the American official arrived in Manila in order to celebrate both nations’ 70 years of the Mutual Defense Treaty and 75-year-old diplomatic ties.

In addition, Malacañang said that the two officials agreed that the ties between the Philippines and the United States could be heightened through “enhanced communication and greater cooperation, particularly in areas of pandemic response, combating transnational crimes, including drug war, maritime domain awareness, rule of law and trade and investments”.

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Duterte thanked the United States for its assistance in the coronavirus pandemic, specifically, the US government’s contribution to the WHO-led COVAX facility, from which the Philippines received more than 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Secretary Austin expressed his great respect to Filipinos, saying that the United States was seeking a strong relationship with the Philippines as an “equal sovereign partner”.

Malacañang added that the courtesy call between Secretary Austin and the Philippine Chief Executive lasted for 75 minutes.

Secretary Austin, who was on an official visit in Manila until July 30, will also meet with his Philippine counterpart, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

You can read the full statement by visiting this link.

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that President Duterte ordered the retraction of the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after meeting Secretary Austin.

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