BANGKOK – President Rodrigo Duterte and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha agreed Tuesday to push for the completion of the framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea this year as the Philippines hosts the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.
“Both sides emphasized the need for the full and effective implementation of the declaration of conduct of parties in the South China Sea and expressed determination to complete the framework of the Code of Conduct in 2017,” Duterte said in a joint statement with PM Prayut after their bilateral meeting at the Government House here.
The President said maintaining peace and stability in region, especially in the disputed seas, was high on their agenda.
“We both also stressed the need to maintain peace and stability in the region, including the South China Sea,” he said. “We recognized both that respect for freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea is in the interest of all countries within or outside the region.”
Thailand is not a claimant in any parts of the South China Sea but Prayut, in his statement, said that international laws must be observed in the disputed territories.
Besides China and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims in the South China Sea.
Aside from the South China Sea issue, Duterte and Prayut stressed the need to combat threats to security and stability to spur growth and development.
“We stressed the need to address traditional and emerging threats to our collective security and stability. These includes transnational crimes such as terrorism and violent extremism, piracy at the sea, as well as the trafficking of persons and illicit drugs,” Duterte said.
Three agreements on science and technology, tourism and agriculture were signed during Duterte’s visit here.
Duterte arrived here at 11:47 p.m. Monday night and was accorded honors and official welcome here as his three-day official visit formally started on Tuesday afternoon.
Duterte, together with his Cabinet members, arrived at 5:30 p.m. at the Thailand Government House. He was welcomed by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.
The Chief Executive earlier visited here in November 2016 to condole with the Thai people and paid his respects to the late King Bhumibol.