Thailand, Philippines affirm commitment to maintaining regional peace and stability

Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (right) and Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte make a toast after both countries signed several bilateral agreements at the presidential palace in Bangkok on March 21, 2017.
Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (right) and Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte make a toast after both countries signed several bilateral agreements at the presidential palace in Bangkok on March 21, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha committed to maintaining peace, stability and security in the region following a meeting on Tuesday (March 21) at the Government House.

At a joint press conference, Duterte and Prayut said they are committed to finding a peaceful solution to the South China Sea dispute. The Philippines is one of the Asean countries that has overlapping claims with China to the resource-rich sea.

"Both sides emphasise the need for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety," said Duterte, who is on an official visit to Thailand. He added that both countries share the determination to complete the framework for the Code of Conduct by this year.

Prayut, for his part, stressed the need for security cooperation between the two countries, as well as with other countries in Asean and the region.

"Both countries agreed on maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea," Prayut said adding that peace in the region would benefit all countries.

The Thai premier added that countries should work together to ensure prosperity in the region.

The two leaders discussed ways to cooperate on transnational crimes and terrorism, among other issues, during their bilateral meeting.

"As countries facing similar challenges and as brothers in Asean, we have a joint stake in keeping our relations always vibrant, always strong and always geared towards the greater and collective interest of our countries and our region," Duterte said.

He also paid tribute to the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who he credited for the good relations between Thailand and the Philippines, which are celebrating the 68th anniversary of bilateral ties. Duterte came to Bangkok for a brief stopover in November last year to pay his respects to King Bhumibol who died on Oct 13, 2016.

In his speech, Duterte commended the Filipino teachers working in schools and academic institutions in Thailand. There are about 16,000 Filipinos in the Kingdom, with majority of them working in the education sector.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of three memorandums of agreement covering agriculture, tourism, and science and technology.

Prayut hosted dinner afterwards for the Philippine leader, who is on the final leg of his introductory trip through the region.

Duterte will meet with the Filipino community on Wednesday night (March 22) before he flies back to Manila.