US, PH to hold 8th bilateral strategic dialogue

The United States and the Philippines are scheduled to hold their eight Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) on Monday in Manila, with focus on bolstering the two nations’ ties in defense, criminal justice, and economics.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim will join the US delegation co-chaired by Assistant Secretary David Stilwell of State Department East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Assistant Secretary Randall G. Schriver of the US Department of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs.

The Philippine delegation will be co-chaired by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo and Defense Undersecretary for Operations Cesar Yano.

The BSD is an annual consultation mechanism to discuss the full range of political, security and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the US.

Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Emmanuel Fernandez said this year’s discussions will focus on strengthening cooperation on counter-terrorism, defense and security, economics, law enforcement, and criminal justice, among others.

Aside from Kim, Stilwell and Schriver, the US delegation will include Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Joseph Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Hugo Yon, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Jorgan Andrews, and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Mark Clark.

This will be Assistant Secretary Stilwell’s first trip to the region since becoming Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs last month.

The previous BSD was held in Washington, D.C. from November 30 to December 1, 2017, while the last BSD took place in Manila in January 2015.

The dialogue will run from July 15 to July 16 in Manila this year.

In the seventh BSD, the two sides explored ways to increase cooperation in the areas of science and technology, agriculture and fisheries, and health and environment.

They also looked forward to expanding a free, fair and reciprocal bilateral trade, including through exploring a potential Free Trade Agreement.

Both sides also reiterated their commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea in the South China Sea, and stressed the importance of peacefully resolving disputes in accordance with international law, as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. PNA