US, PH to hold bi­lat­eral strate­gic di­a­logue to­day

Mindanao Times - - NATIONAL -

MANILA-- The United States and the Philip­pines are sched­uled to hold their eight Bi­lat­eral Strate­gic Di­a­logue (BSD) on Mon­day in Manila, with fo­cus on bol­ster­ing the two na­tions’ ties in de­fense, crim­i­nal jus­tice, and eco­nom­ics.

US Am­bas­sador to the Philip­pines Sung Kim will join the US del­e­ga­tion co-chaired by Assistant Sec­re­tary David Stil­well of State De­part­ment East Asian and Pa­cific Af­fairs and Assistant Sec­re­tary Ran­dall G. Schriver of the US De­part­ment of De­fense for Indo-Pa­cific Se­cu­rity Af­fairs.

The Philip­pine del­e­ga­tion will be co-chaired by Foreign Af­fairs Un­der­sec­re­tary for Pol­icy En­rique Manalo and De­fense Un­der­sec­re­tary for Op­er­a­tions Ce­sar Yano.

The BSD is an an­nual con­sul­ta­tion mech­a­nism to dis­cuss the full range of po­lit­i­cal, se­cu­rity and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Philip­pines and the US.

Foreign Af­fairs Assistant Sec­re­tary Em­manuel Fer­nan­dez said this year’s dis­cus­sions will fo­cus on strength­en­ing co­op­er­a­tion on counter-ter­ror­ism, de­fense and se­cu­rity, eco­nom­ics, law en­force­ment, and crim­i­nal jus­tice, among oth­ers.

Aside from Kim, Stil­well and Schriver, the US del­e­ga­tion will in­clude Deputy Assistant Sec­re­tary of De­fense for South and South­east Asia Joseph Fel­ter, Deputy Assistant Sec­re­tary of State for Eco­nomic and Busi­ness Af­fairs Hugo Yon, Deputy Assistant Sec­re­tary of State for In­ter­na­tional Nar­cotics and Law En­force­ment Af­fairs Jor­gan An­drews, and Act­ing Deputy Assistant Sec­re­tary of State for South­east Asia Mark Clark.

This will be Assistant Sec­re­tary Stil­well’s first trip to the re­gion since be­com­ing Assistant Sec­re­tary of State for East Asian and Pa­cific Af­fairs last month.

The pre­vi­ous BSD was held in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 1, 2017, while the last BSD took place in Manila in Jan­uary 2015.

The di­a­logue will run from July 15 to July 16 in Manila this year.

In the sev­enth BSD, the two sides ex­plored ways to in­crease co­op­er­a­tion in the ar­eas of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, agri­cul­ture and fish­eries, and health and en­vi­ron­ment.

They also looked for­ward to ex­pand­ing a free, fair and re­cip­ro­cal bi­lat­eral trade, in­clud­ing through ex­plor­ing a po­ten­tial Free Trade Agree­ment.

Both sides also re­it­er­ated their com­mit­ment to up­hold free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and over­flight and other law­ful uses of the sea in the South China Sea, and stressed the im­por­tance of peace­fully re­solv­ing dis­putes in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional law, as re­flected in the Law of the Sea Con­ven­tion.

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