Australia eyes elevation of ties with PH during foreign minister’s 4-day visit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her four-day visit to Manila is part of efforts to elevate ties with the Philippines, which Australia considers an important regional partner and key player in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“A key outcome of the visit will be to progress the uplifting of our relationship from a comprehensive partnership to a strategic partnership. One that really demonstrates the value we accord to each other, the importance of the relationship and I think reflect more appropriately who we really are to each other,” Wong told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Wednesday.

The Australian official is currently in the Philippines for a four-day visit until May 19. 

She is set to meet with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo to discuss several issues of mutual interest, including defense and security partnership, development cooperation, trade and investment, and people-to-people ties.

Wong noted that both countries have a long-standing defense partnership. But Australia wants to bring more to the table when it comes to economic ties, she added.

“You are a very important partner and you are a very important player within ASEAN,” she emphasized.

Aside from her bilateral meeting, Wong is also scheduled for a courtesy call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte.