Brunei, PH to discuss defense, terrorism, drugs in state visit

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Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah arrives in Manila on Wednesday for a state visit ahead of the 30th ASEAN Summit on April 29.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — Defense exchanges, collaborating against terrorism, and the campaign against illegal drugs are on the agenda of talks between Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday.

Bilateral talks between the two leaders are set to kick off Thursday afternoon.

A Malacañang press statement said the talks include "intensifying political and security defense exchanges; enhancing collaboration in combating terrorism, violent extremism and piracy at sea; and strengthening the campaign against the illegal drug trade."

The two countries are expected to discuss strengthening cooperation in "bilateral, subregional and regional settings," it added.

The statement also noted that Brunei had a "crucial role" in "peace and development in Mindanao" as well as trade and investment in agriculture and halal industry development.

Bolkiah arrived in Manila late Wednesday on a Boeing 747 that the Sultan himself flew, said his official photographer and ground crew. This is Brunei's first state visit to the Philippines under the Duterte administration.

Bilateral talks with Brunei will also be followed by a state visit from Indonesia, represented by President Joko Widodo, on Friday.

"President Duterte will separately discuss with Sultan Bolkiah and President Widodo issues of common concern, such as security of our sea lanes, cross-border traffic and patrol, and economic cooperation," Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in another statement.

"The President can also be expected to discuss the situation of Filipino workers in these countries, including the case of Mary Jane Veloso," he added.

Bolkiah is set to attend a wreath laying activity at Rizal Monument and official welcome ceremony in Malacañang Palace on Thursday afternoon.

This will be followed by the bilateral talks and a state banquet in honor of Bolkiah on Thursday evening.

The state visit is held ahead of the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on April 29, Saturday.

The heads of all ASEAN member states are participating in the summit, except for Myanmar, which will be represented by State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi.

The summit and related meetings kicked off with its first meeting among the members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN on Wednesday.

Brunei's state visit coincides with the Senior Officials' Meeting on Thursday, while Indonesia's state visit coincides with the Foreign Ministers' Meeting on Friday.

There are a total of 138 ASEAN-related meetings, most of which are set to take place at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Another high-level summit of the ASEAN leaders and top officials will take place November 10 to 14,at the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings in Clark Field, Pampanga.

Apart from the heads of government of ASEAN, world leaders from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States are also expected to attend this summit.