President Benigno Aquino 3rd and his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, talked about registered national stability and counter-terrorism during their bilateral meeting on Wednesday, Malacañang said on Thursday.
According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., who was present during the closed-door meeting, both leaders discussed the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Coloma said Matarella expressed support for the arbitration case filed by the Philippines before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in The Netherlands.
“The West Philippine Sea maritime dispute was mentioned, as Italy affirmed the Philippines’ adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in upholding freedom of navigation in the area,” he added.
The Philippines is pursuing a legal battle against China through the arbitral tribunal, which Italy believes is an “appropriate path” toward peacefully resolving the dispute, Coloma said.
During their bilateral meeting, counter-terrorism was also discussed by the two leaders, according to Coloma.
Aquino and Mattarella shared the view that it is vital to exert efforts toward deradicalization in the campaign against global terrorism, he said.
The mass shootings and suicide bombings, which the Islamic State launched in Paris last November 13, have drastically impacted the tourism industry across Europe, affecting Italy and other neighboring countries of France.
The two leaders also discussed how the Philippines has been dealing with its own terrorism issues, Coloma added.
Meanwhile, he said Aquino thanked Mattarella for the support that Italy has provided for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and debt for development programs.
Coloma added that the Italian leader also raised concerns shared by many European countries with respect to migrants and refugees fleeing war, while Aquino cited the Philippines’ record in assisting asylum seekers.
Rome also lauded Manila’s high economic growth rate and its anti-corruption efforts.
Mattarella further commended significant contributions to Italian society of more than 171,000 Filipinos in Italy.
Both leaders acknowledged the need for improved relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the European Union.