PH-SOKOR TIES. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and South Korea President Yoon Suk Yeol shake hands after they held their bilateral meeting at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the sidelines of the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits on Saturday (Nov. 12, 2022). The two leaders agreed to step up cooperation on various areas, including security, infrastructure, and energy. (Photo courtesy of Office of the President)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed on Saturday to step up the Philippines and South Korea’s cooperation in various areas, including security, infrastructure, and energy.

The commitment to a stronger partnership was made when Marcos and Yoon held a bilateral meeting at the Sokha Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the sidelines of the 40th and 41st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits.

“I do believe that it is time that we start to work to elevate our bilateral relations to a strategic partnership,” Marcos told Yoon.

“Our newly launched bilateral platforms on science and technology, fisheries, cooperation and maritime cooperation, all contribute to the deepening of this engagement,” he added.

Denuclearization thrust

Meanwhile, Marcos also backed South Korea’s efforts on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as he expressed concern over North Korea’s continuous missile testing.

“This is of great concern and we are fully supportive of the Republic of Korea in all your efforts to denuclearize North Korea,” Marcos said.

“The Philippines is one with you on that and we will do what we can to assist South Korea in that effort," he added.

Both sides agreed to elevate their relations to a new level that will enhance security, infrastructure, energy, as well as people-to-people exchanges.

This is the first time Marcos and Yoon met in person.

Diplomatic ties between the Philippines and South Korea were established on March 3, 1949.

South Korea is also among Manila’s largest development partners.

Marcos thanked South Korea for its solidarity initiatives that seek to attain maritime security and entails an “infusion of significant funding in various regional cooperative projects.”

One of the initiatives Marcos mentioned was the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Fund of South Korea.

Established in 1994, BIMP-EAGA aims to accelerate the socioeconomic development of less-developed, marginalized and geographically remote areas in the four countries as part of a broader goal to narrow the development gaps. (with reports from Azer N. Parrocha/PNA)