DFA chief pushes cooperation in fight vs terrorism

By Helen Flores

BUSAN – Greater cooperation in the fight against transnational crime and terrorism highlighted Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s message to his counterparts at the 8th Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) Foreign Ministers’ Meeting here.

In his speech on Thursday, Cayetano said geographic distance should not hinder cooperation in addressing common issues.

“Transnational crime, climate change and pandemics by their very nature respect no boundaries and recognize no distance,” he said.

Cayetano represented the Philippines at the meeting. The Philippines is a founding member of the FEALAC.

“I am heartened to see that our Busan Declaration addresses issues such as protectionism, counterterrorism and threats to cyber-security,” he added.

The secretary said the issues should offer new avenues for countries in East Asia and Latin America to work together and bridge the gap between the regions.

He also noted the Philippine government’s efforts to re-engage bilateral partners in the Latin American region, noting the same Hispanic heritage between Latin American countries and the Philippines.

“FEALAC remains an important link in facilitating meaningful dialogue and concrete cooperation between East Asia and Latin America, and the Philippines is committed to reinvigorating its engagement with its Latin American partners as envisioned under President Duterte’s independent foreign policy,” said Cayetano.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said FEALAC foreign ministers adopted the Busan Declaration during the meeting.

Cayetano also said the Philippines joined the international community in congratulating Iraq after its forces regained control of a key city in the northwest from the Islamic State.

“We congratulate the government and people of Iraq for the victory in Tal Afar. This victory is not Iraq’s alone but also of the whole world,” Cayetano said after attending the opening ceremonies for the ASEAN Culture House here.

“We draw inspiration from Iraq’s victory in Tal Afar as we move closer towards defeating our common enemy in Marawi,” Cayetano said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared victory on Thursday, 10 days after Iraqi forces launched an offensive to retake the city.

At the conclusion of their meeting, the foreign ministers also agreed on the establishment of a trust fund that would be used for projects aimed at strengthening interconnectivity and broadening areas of cooperation.

FEALAC’s 36 member-countries endorsed the creation of the fund at the conclusion of its 8th Foreign Minister’s Meeting at the Nurimaru APEC House here last Thursday.

The FEALAC Fund is a multi-donor trust fund established in partnership with two United Nations commissions – the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific or ESCAP and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean or ECLAC.

South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-Wha, in a press conference, explained the fund would be used for projects that would tap unexplored potentials in the areas of trade and investment promotion, science, technology and innovation, infrastructure and transport, sustainable growth and reduction of inequality.

South Korea has committed $1 million in seed money for the fund.

Many other countries also pledged to contribute to the fund, including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Laos, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Thailand. – With Janvic Mateo


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