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Philippines, Japan, US foreign officials prepare for tri-summit

MANILA, Philippines — As the Philippines prepares for a trilateral summit with Japan and the US on April 11, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro met on Thursday in Tokyo with Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Okano Masataka and US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell to discuss regional security issues and economic cooperation.

The three officials also talked about preparations for the trilateral summit in Washington among President Marcos, US President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

“Their meeting follows a series of senior-level engagements over the past year to deepen trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan and the Philippines,” US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, referring to the Tokyo meeting yesterday.

Miller said Campbell, Okano and Lazaro reiterated their collective commitment to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific Region, particularly in the South China Sea and East China Sea.

“The deputy secretary and his counterparts also discussed trilateral cooperation in areas related to economic security and resilience; defense and security; the international law of the sea, including freedom of navigation and growing people-to-people ties,” he said.

Like the Philippines, Japan also has territorial issues with China, which is claiming Japan’s Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Japan has been vocal in questioning China’s vast maritime claims in the South China Sea.

Countries supporting the Philippines have called on China to stop its aggression and militarization activities in the South China Sea, including in areas within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

The Chinese boosted their presence in the West Philippine Sea by building naval stations and airstrips on reclaimed land features and deploying a huge number of coast guard and militia vessels, which have been harassing Filipino vessels and fishing boats.