Ja­pan of­fers Philip­pines aid for fight­ing ter­ror­ism, re­build­ing

Mil­i­tary cam­paign leaves over 1,100 fight­ers, civil­ians dead

Kuwait Times - - International -

TOKYO: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte won pledges from Ja­pan of help with fight­ing ter­ror­ism and as­sis­tance in build­ing the coun­try’s crum­bling in­fra­struc­ture, as he met with Ja­pan’s prime min­is­ter yes­ter­day dur­ing a visit to the coun­try. Ja­pan promised its support in the re­con­struc­tion of the strife-torn south­ern Philip­pine city of Marawi. A mil­i­tary cam­paign re­cently ended a five-month siege of the city by Is­lamic State group-aligned mil­i­tants that left more than 1,100 com­bat­ants and civil­ians dead.

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe wel­comed the lib­er­a­tion of Marawi and gave credit to Duterte’s lead­er­ship. “I ex­press my heart­felt re­spect for Pres­i­dent Duterte’s lead­er­ship on the re­cent dec­la­ra­tion of lib­er­a­tion in Marawi,” Abe said. “We will pro­vide full support for (the Philip­pines’) coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­fort and steps to en­sure peace and sta­bil­ity” in the re­gion. The two lead­ers also agreed to co­op­er­ate on var­i­ous projects, in­clud­ing a sub­way sys­tem for metropoli­tan Manila, the traf­fic-jammed cap­i­tal, en­ergy de­vel­op­ment, mar­itime safety and the Philip­pines’ fight against drugs and drug traf­fick­ing.

The as­sis­tance from Tokyo in­cludes 15.9 bil­lion yen ($140 mil­lion) in low-in­ter­est fi­nanc­ing for a wa­ter man­age­ment project in the Philip­pines’ flood-prone Cavite prov­ince, Ja­pan’s For­eign Min­istry said in a state­ment. Be­fore leav­ing the Philip­pines for Tokyo late Sun­day, Duterte said he hoped to dis­cuss con­cerns over North Korea with Abe and de­clared that some­one should talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, re­as­sure him that no­body is out to re­move him or de­stroy his coun­try, and ask him to stop threat­en­ing at­tacks.

“You must re­mem­ber that he is a leader of his peo­ple,” Duterte said, adding that “what­ever he pro­claims him­self to be, some­body has got to talk to him.” “So, if some­body could just reach out, talk to him and say, ‘My friend, why don’t you just join me in the ta­ble and we’ll just talk about th­ese things?’” Duterte told re­porters in the south­ern Philip­pine city of Davao. “No­body’s talk­ing to him.”

Duterte echoed US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in say­ing he be­lieves China has the great­est lever­age with Py­ongyang, a long­time Bei­jing ally. And he ex­pressed con­cern over the po­ten­tial for dan­ger­ous mis­steps in the stand­off with North Korea over its nu­clear pro­gram. “We are wor­ried, all of us, that you know, Mur­phy’s Law, ‘If any­thing can go wrong, it will go wrong.’” Apart from his talks with gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, while in Tokyo Duterte is due to meet with Ja­panese busi­ness lead­ers and have an au­di­ence with Em­peror Ak­i­hito and Em­press Michiko. “I sup­pose that I have to limit my mouth there,” the blunt-spo­ken Philip­pine pres­i­dent said.

He praised Ja­pan as a “true friend of the Philip­pines” and said he would seek as much help as pos­si­ble from Ja­pan in re­build­ing Marawi and the sur­round­ing re­gion. The siege in the south­ern Philip­pines dis­placed some 400,000 res­i­dents, in­clud­ing the en­tire pop­u­la­tion of Marawi, a bas­tion of the Is­lamic faith in the pre­dom­i­nantly Ro­man Catholic Philip­pines. Mil­i­tary airstrikes, ar­tillery

Abe cred­its Duterte’s lead­er­ship

and heavy ma­chine-gun fire turned the lake­side city’s cen­tral busi­ness district and out­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ties into a smol­der­ing waste­land of dis­fig­ured build­ings and bul­let­pocked mosques and houses._


TOKYO: Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte (left) delivers his speech be­side Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe dur­ing the joint re­marks an­nounce­ment at Abe’s of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Tokyo yes­ter­day.

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