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PM seeks stronger defence ties in Philippines visit

Australia will look to reinforce security and defence ties with the Philippines amid growing regional tensions after the Prime Minister arrived for formal talks in Manila.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in Manila for a state visit with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese arrives in Manila for a state visit with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Photo: AAP/Mick Tsikas

Anthony Albanese will have one-on-one talks with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on Friday, as part of his week-long visit through Asia.

Albanese will be the first prime minister in 20 years to hold formal bilateral talks in the Philippines with the country’s leader.

“The Philippines is a critical nation for Australia’s interests, we have strong economic relations,” he said on Thursday.

“We also have strong co-operation when it comes to defence arrangements, and in addition to that, of course, we have a strong diaspora in Australia.”

The two leaders have already held informal talks at the gala dinner for the ASEAN summit in Jakarta.

The bilateral meeting coincides with Australia ramping up its military ties with the Philippines.

Defence Minister Richard Marles in August confirmed Australia would work more closely with the Asian nation on joint patrols.

Tensions had been rising in the South China Sea, with mounting clashes between the Philippines and China in the contested region.

Albanese said Australia respected rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

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“Australia continues to engage consistently with international law in the region, including in the South China Sea,” he said.

During his visit to Manila, Albanese will take part in a wreath-laying ceremony before talks with President Marcos at the presidential palace.

The visit to the Philippines follows the prime minister attending the ASEAN and East Asia summits in Jakarta.

The trip coincided with the launch of a new economic strategy for Southeast Asia to 2040, which calls for increasing investment to the region, including the Philippines.

Albanese also held formal talks on the sidelines of the summit with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, where he accepted an invitation to visit Beijing this year.

Later on Friday, the prime minister will jet off to India for the two-day G20 summit in New Delhi.

-AAP

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