MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met on Monday in Malaysia’s federal administrative center Putrajaya to reaffirm the two Southeast Asian nations’ ties.
Malacañang said Duterte and Mahathir, who recently won the elections, discussed matters of mutual concern and “renewed and reaffirmed the long-standing brotherhood and friendship between the Philippines and Malaysia.”
“President Duterte likewise renewed the commitment to further strengthen defense and security cooperation at the bilateral and regional level,” Malacañang said in a statement.
Malacañang added that Duterte thanked Malaysia for its support for Manila’s peace talks with Muslim rebels in Mindanao. Malaysia has served as the third-party facilitator between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
As expected, Duterte also discussed with Mahathir ways to address terrorism and violent extremism in the region, as well as transnational crimes such as piracy and armed robbery at sea and the illegal drug trade.
The Palace earlier said the President was likely to skip discussions on Sabah, a thorny issue between the two neighbors.
The Philippines stakes its claim to Sabah by citing an 1878 land lease agreement between the Sultanate of Sulu and the British North Borneo Chartered Co.
The Philippines maintains that the agreement was only for leasing the land and did not render Sabah part of Malaysia when it was formed into a federation in 1963.