Malaysian PM set to arrive in Manila Wednesday night

Malaysian PM set to arrive in Manila Wednesday night”

Mahathir, 93, is in the Philippines for the first time since his shock election victory a year ago.

During their meeting, Duterte said he shared with Mahathir "the great strides we have achieved towards securing just and lasting peace in Mindanao" in the southern Philippines. "We resolved to address security issues".

"As far as policy is concerned, the biggest role of Malaysia in the time of prime minister (Mahathir) was his role in the peace process, and there is now the Bangsamoro which we reported to him", Arroyo said, in reference to the new autonomous region in Mindanao.

In addition, former Moro National Liberation Front and Moro Islamic Liberation Front MILF fighters will be eligible to join official armed forces.

Mahathir is visiting Manila for talks with President Rodrigo Duterte and other top officials, who are expected to thank Malaysia for brokering peace talks between the Philippine government and Muslim guerrillas, who have become governors of a new Muslim autonomous region.

"We discussed a wide range of issues on bilateral relations between Malaysia and the Philippines, as well as regional and worldwide issues of mutual concern", he said.

Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia agreed in 2017 to carry out sea and aerial patrols to confront a wave of abductions along their sea border by Abu Sayyaf militants and allied gunmen from the southern Philippines. "Malaysia occupies a prominent role in this roster of friends", Duterte added.

But he warned that extremism would continue to pose a problem.

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Expressing his concern, Lorenzana said, "The Philippines is not in a conflict with anyone and will not be at war with anyone in the future".

He said fighting these ideas without finding the root cause would not bring success.

Duterte has warmly embraced China despite his nation's long-standing maritime row with Beijing over the South China Sea.

Duterte, an ardent Chinese backer, has preferred to engage Beijing on friendlier terms, encouraging investments in the Philippines among others. Development can not take place in war.

There has been weeks of relative quiet in the South China Sea, which towards the end of a year ago saw steadily increasing tensions as U.S. naval ships and planes passed near Chinese military assets with increased frequency. In a statement issued by Philippines Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) under which such a drill is performed is highly risky.

"We emphasized the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight over the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), as well as the peaceful settlement of disputes".

"This is, without resort to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognized principles of global law", he said.

Mahathir said he and Duterte also talked about security matters and renewed Malaysia's commitment to address terrorism.

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