MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday evening met with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss the two countries’ ties.
Duterte welcomed Turnbull to their meeting following the gala dinner attended by leaders of the ASEAN and their dialogue partners.
“I assure you that the relations between the two countries are strong, as always been, no problem for that. And we continue to cooperate in our alliances,” Duterte told Turnbull.
Duterte also gave assurances to Australia that the Philippines, as this year’s ASEAN chair, has aired to China other nations’ concerns about the “continued build up of military installations” in the South China Sea.
During his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, Duterte told the Chinese leader of the need for a code of conduct for claimants to the South China Sea.
Aside from the Philippines, three other ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Vietnam, and Malaysia, have overlapping claims to the sea with China.
Australia, along with the United States and Japan, in August this year, called for a code of conduct that is legally binding, enforceable, and have a dispute resolution mechanism.