Marcos: Partnership with Australia 'key to maintaining peace'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 18) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday said a partnership with Australia is "extremely important" and is "key to maintaining peace" in the Indo-pacific region.

"Now we have a situation where partnerships have become extremely important and it might be the key to maintaining the peace not only in the Asia Pacific but the Indo-Pacific region," Marcos said during a courtesy call with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong at the Palace.

Wong earlier said the country would work with the Philippines and other nations in ASEAN to "shape" the region into a "peaceful, open,and prosperous one."

"[W]e want to work with the Philippines and other parties, other nations in the region to help shape the region we all want. A peaceful, open, prosperous region," Wong said.

Wong made the statement at a joint press briefing with Department of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo who said both countries discussed a shared commitment "to working and deepening relations with regional partners both in bilateral and multilateral mechanisms and thereby advancing our shared strategic interest."

"I look forward, we look forward to discussing with Australia and our other partner Japan, and even with the, perhaps, the United States on possible modes of cooperation," Manalo added.

"We are certainly planning to take forward these discussions in the very near future," he said.

Australia also said it is "deeply committed" to elevating its relationship with the Philippines following a meeting between the two countries' top diplomats.

"We are committed, deeply committed, to elevating our relationship with the Philippines to a strategic partnership," Wong stressed on Thursday.

Marcos also said Australia and the Philippines should continue the efforts to sustain relationships, partnerships, alliances in response to the rapidly changing geo-political situation.

"And therefore, we have to stay in very close communication so that we present a common plan to meet not only with ASEAN but all member states around the Indo-Pacific," Marcos told Wong.

Meanwhile, Wong took note of the 77 years of diplomatic relations between Canberra and Manila, and described the Philippines as a "vital, long-standing security partner for Australia."

For his part, Secretary Manalo said discussions with his Australian counterpart included how they could enhance existing relationships.

On the matter of trilateral cooperation among the Philippines, Australia, and Japan, Manalo said this remains "under consideration."