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VIENTIANE, Laos – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cannot contain his excitement upon seeing and meeting President Rodrigo Duterte for the first time during their bilateral meeting Tuesday afternoon held here on the margins of the 28th and 29th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summits and Related Summits.
“Mr. President is quite a famous figure also in Japan and I am very excited to see you in person,” Prime Minister Abe said in his opening statement during the bilateral meeting held at the National Convention Center.
Abe first underscored that Japan firmly deplores the bombing incident which took place in Davao City last week.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences for the victims and their family members and also I would like to reiterate my feelings of sympathy for you,” said the Japanese leader.
According to Abe this year marks the 60th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic relationship between Japan and the Philippines.
“And under our close partnership, I do look forward to further developing our cooperation in a wide range of areas together with you,” he stressed.
For his part, President Duterte expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for their efforts to commiserate with the Filipino people in the bombing incident in Davao City.
The President, likewise, expressed his gratitude as Davao remains to be the largest recipient of official development assistance (ODA) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
“For so many years, JICA has been there,” said Duterte. “Japan has been kind enough to extend us all the assistance for further development in our country and as a matter of fact, our trade shows that we export more to Japan than before.”
President Duterte pointed out that the trade balance surplus is in favor of the Philippines and because of this “we know that Japan is one of our friendly neighbors.”
At the same time the President expressed its solidarity with Japan in the matter of the security of the Korean Peninsula.
“I support your stand,” said Duterte. “And we hope that we can work together for a better and a greater, peaceful area.” (RCM)