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India, Philippines vow to expand defence ties & Indo-Pacific partnership on Jaishankar’s visit

Jaishankar’s two-day visit to the Philippines came days after India signed a historic deal to export BrahMos missiles to the Southeast Asian nation.

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New Delhi: India and the Philippines vowed to expand security and defence cooperation during External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s maiden visit to the archipelago, also deciding to have a closer partnership under the Indo-Pacific strategic construct, with an eye on China.

During his visit, Jaishankar Monday met Philippines’ Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr, and also held long-ranging conversations with Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana on national security challenges and defence cooperation.

“Held productive discussions with FM @teddyboylocsin of the Philippines. We are entering a new phase of our partnership. Its basis is the mutuality of national security and development aspirations. Our conversation covered a range of issues dealing with both,” tweeted Jaishankar.

Jaishankar went to the Philippines — one of 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — from Australia, where he attended the Quad foreign ministers’ meeting.

Jaishankar and Locsin also discussed “the future trajectory of the wide-ranging engagement between the two countries” and had an in-depth exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Jaishankar’s visit comes less than a month after New Delhi got its first export deal for BrahMos missiles in January, when Manila signed a $374-million deal with the BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited (BAPL).

BAPL, an India-Russian joint venture, produces the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos.

According to Shambhu Kumaran, India’s Ambassador to the Philippines, the deal marked a “decisive step” towards bringing the Philippines closer to India’s Indo-Pacific strategic engagement.

‘Philippines, India at crossroads of busiest sea lanes in world’

Hinting at China’s increasing assertion in the Indo-Pacific region, Philippines foreign minister Locsin, during a luncheon meeting with Jaishankar Monday, said that “as maritime countries, the Philippines and India, both at the crossroads of the busiest sea lanes in the world, know the critical role of the rule of law in maintaining stability on the water — that most unstable element yet so vital to the life and thriving of nations”.

“We have so much more to do in maritime cooperation, as much bilaterally as regionally in the context of ASEAN, more broadly still throughout the Indo-Pacific,” Locsin added.

“India has been our partner in promoting peace and security in the region, as well as in advocating the rule of law in the face of armed ambition and the anarchy that follows it,” Locsin said.

Referring to the growing ties between the two countries, he said, “friendship is the only basis of genuine cooperation”.

“It doesn’t guarantee success because outcomes are seldom under our control. But it ensures we have each other’s back regardless,” Locsin added.

According to a statement issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, New Delhi and Manila forged “closer Indo-Pacific ties” during the visit.

The Philippines said there will be more high-level visits between both countries in the run-up to the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic ties between two countries, which will be marked in 2024.

(Edited by Neha Mahajan)

Also read: Quad 4th meet a triumph, but India’s problem is delay, slack, and unused secret weapon


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