Duterte thanks visiting defense ministers
Clark Field, Pampanga — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday thanked defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other allied countries for their assistance in defeating the local terrorist group Maute in Marawi City.
The President received the visiting ministers on the sideline of the 11th ASEAN Defense Meeting and 4th ADMM – Plus at the ASEAN Convention Center here. The ministers gathered for talks on a wide range of issues from combatting terrorism to illegal drugs.
In his message during the meeting, the President said their productive and fruitful dialogue would surely contribute to the promotion of cooperation, peace, and stability in the region.
He particularly mentioned China and Russia, which provided arms to the military; and the US and Australia, for sharing their intelligence and military expertise.
The President later briefed the ministers on the situation in Marawi City, saying all combat operations against terrorist groups had ended.
He also updated them on the situation in war-torn Marawi city, saying all combat operations in Marawi City had been terminated following the killing of terrorist leaders Isnilon Hapilon of the Abu Sayyaf Group and Omar Maute of the Maute Group. He said the remaining terrorists in the area had been neutralized.
Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis congratulated the Philippines on a successful year as ASEAN chair in 2017 — the 50th anniversary of ASEAN and the 40th anniversary of US – ASEAN relations.
During the meeting, Mattis reaffirmed his government’s commitment to allies and partners across the region, and to freedom of navigation, and to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.
A statement from the Pentagon said Mattis likewise stressed “the importance of international cooperation to pressure North Korea in order to realize the shared goal of complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”
Mattis also stressed the importance of maritime security as a natural area for deeper cooperation between the United States and ASEAN. He also proposed to hold a new maritime exercise with ASEAN partners in 2018, as well as to host a maritime security dialogue featuring regional navies and maritime law enforcement. #