DEFENSE chief Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and French Minister for the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu on December 2 discussed current regional security issues during the latter’s visit.
The “landmark visit” to the Philippines by a French defense minister, according to the Embassy of France, covered concerns in the Indo-Pacific, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe, as both officials underscored the rules-based international order, then called for the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Consistent with the security and defense interests of the Philippines and the French Indo-Pacific Strategy, they highlighted their shared positions supporting a free, open, inclusive, and stable region.
Regarding the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea, both sides expressed their governments’ adherence to the spirit and provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its primacy thereof, as they recalled the 2016 Arbitral Award on the WPS/SCS.
The ministers welcomed the positive trajectory of Philippine-French defense and military cooperation, demonstrated by the regular convening of bilateral defense dialogues, visits by defense and armed forces delegations, continuous educational exchanges, port visits, as well as naval and disaster-response training activities.
Teodoro and Lecornu reaffirmed their determination to work for a stronger long-term partnership in the maritime, land, aerial, and information domains. Along this line, they renewed their commitment to deepen the bilateral defense relations between the Philippines and France through the signing of a Letter of Intent, wherein both sides expressed their willingness to raise the level of interaction and consolidate their exchanges through practical cooperation.
This includes strengthening the legal framework of the bilateral defense relationship by initiating discussions on defense agreements covering the consideration of a status of visiting forces agreement, enhancing defense and military activities, plus capability development and joint defense-industry cooperation.
Image credits: @Frenchembassyph