2nd Bilateral Talks between Philippines and New Zealand

Following the inaugural dialogue in Manila last year, the Philippines and New Zealand held today (October 9, 2012) their 2nd Bilateral Defense Talks. Meeting this time in Wellington, New Zealand, the Philippine and New Zealand delegations led by National Defense Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino and Secretary of Defense John McKinnon discussed how to move the bilateral defense cooperation forward.

They also examined the prospects of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus Experts Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations which they co-chair and discussed potential activities of the working group which could further promote practical cooperation in peacekeeping among regional states. New Zealand co-hosted a legal seminar on peacekeeping in Wellington last year while the Philippines co-hosted a regional PKO capabilities workshop in Manila last June. A regional workshop on operational challenges facing peacekeeping operations is slated to be held in Bogor, Indonesia in November. The workshop is co-organized by New Zealand, the Philippines and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Indonesia will host the workshop.

Both delegations also exchanged views on various regional security issues, noting the importance for Asia-Pacific states to work together in keeping peace and stability in the region. The Philippines stressed that its defense capability upgrade program is not directed against any specific country nor brought about by the current situation in the West Philippine Sea while New Zealand stressed that while it does not take specific position in regard to disputed territories, states in a dispute should find recourse to internationally available mechanisms and noted that the it would be most useful to move from the Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea to a Code of Conduct that would govern the behavior of states involved in the dispute.

While New Zealand informed the Philippines of the upcoming drawdown of its forces in Afghanistan, the Philippines shared with the New Zealand the good prospects of the resolution of the situation in Mindanao with the signing of the Peace Framework between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation. The Philippines also updated New Zealand of developments in Manila's bilateral defense relationship with Canberra while New Zealand discussed the renewed defense relationship between Wellington and Washington, emphasizing that its non-nuclear position remains in place.