MANILA – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday a new strategic partnership his country will sign with the Philippines will strengthen bilateral ties between the two nations.
Albanese spoke during a bilateral meeting with his Philippine counterpart Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who said the Philippines and Australia’s close relationship was “terribly important.”
“The new strategic partnership that we will sign today will strengthen the bilateral ties that we’ve had for 77 years,” Albanese told Marcos.
Albanese’s visit to the Philippines is the first bilateral visit by an Australian leader in 20 years, after a period of renewed tension between the Philippines and China in waters they both claim in the South China Sea.
Albanese threw his support behind a 2016 arbitral ruling on the South China Sea that invalidated China’s expansive claims in the resource-rich waterway.
“Australia supports the 2016 South China Sea arbitral award. That is final and binding. And it is important that it be upheld going forward,” Albanese said. — Reuters