India, Philippines to boost defence cooperation, information-sharing to fight terror
India and the Philippines agreed on Friday to enhance bilateral defence engagement and maritime cooperation, especially in training and procurement of military equipment, and to step up information-sharing to counter terrorism.
The decisions were made during a virtual meeting of the joint commission on bilateral cooperation that was co-chaired by external affairs minister S Jaishankar and Teodoro Locsin Jr, secretary of department of foreign affairs of the Philippines.
There is considerable defence cooperation between the two countries and the Philippines is considered to be among the front-runners for acquiring the BrahMos cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia. Efforts to conclude a deal for the missile system this year were hit by the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
The two sides “agreed to further strengthen defence engagement and maritime cooperation...especially in military training and education, capacity building, regular goodwill visits, and procurement of defence equipment”, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.
They also agreed to “enhance cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism with information exchange between concerned agencies and support in terms of specialised training needs”, the statement added.
Jaishankar tweeted that his meeting with Locsin “focused on taking forward cooperation in trade and investment, defence, education, ICT and space”. The Indian side underlined “our convergence on Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative and ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific,” he added.
During the meeting, the two sides reviewed recent developments in bilateral relations and discussed the future trajectory of their engagement. Jaishankar and Locsin agreed to strengthen cooperation on shared challenges, particularly in the health sector to address the Covid-19 pandemic.
They also agreed to expand trade and investment links, and to work on strengthening cooperation in agriculture, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, tourism, energy, ICT, and science and technology. To expand trade, tourism and student exchanges, both sides agreed to work on a simplified visa regime.
Jaishankar appreciated educational opportunities provided by the Philippines to Indian students, and reaffirmed India’s assistance for development and capacity building in the Philippines. He invited Filipino students, scholars and academics to avail of the ITEC and e-ITEC initiatives, and use the PhD fellowships offered to Asean students at IITs.