MANILA, Sept 18 (Mabuhay) —  The Philippines and France renewed their commitment to deepening bilateral cooperation in the political, defense, economic, and cultural fields as the two sides convened virtually for the 2nd Philippines-France Political Consultations on September 16.

The Philippine delegation, led by Foreign Affairs Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and Asean Affairs Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, and the French delegation, headed by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Director for Asia and Oceania Bertrand Lortholary, shared updates on developments in their respective countries, particularly on their national vaccination strategies, the importance of harnessing multilateral cooperation during this global health crisis, and exploring a bilateral agreement on health cooperation.

Lazaro conveyed the Philippine government’s appreciation to the French government for facilitating the transfer of a Filipino national from Afghanistan and discussed the Philippines’ priorities as coordinator of Asean-EU Relations for 2021-2024, as well as ways to maximize the Asean-France Development Partnership.

The two sides also reviewed the outcomes of the recently concluded 9th PH-France Joint Economic Committee Meeting and discussed ways to bolster bilateral economic cooperation despite the pandemic, underscored the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight while stressing the importance of the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, and emphasized the importance of concluding an effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC).

Both sides also looked forward to organizing a series of events in the Philippines and France to mark the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Philippines-France diplomatic relations in 2022.

Lazaro was joined by European Affairs Assistant Secretary Jaime Victor Ledda; Asean Affairs Assistant Secretary and incoming Philippine Ambassador to France Junever Mahilum-West; Chargé d’Affaires Aileen Mendiola-Rau of the Philippine Embassy in Paris; and Commercial Counsellor Froilan Pamintuan of the Philippine Trade and Investment Center-Paris.

France will host the next round of bilateral consultations. (MNS)

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