Abe in Philippines, to meet Duterte

Tokyo, Jan 12 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday arrived in the Philippines on a two-day visit where he will meet President Rodrigo Duterte, on the first leg of a tour that will also include Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Abe arrived at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport and immediately headed towards the Malacanang Presidential Palace for a welcome reception and a bilateral meeting with Duterte, Efe news reported.

During the meeting, the two leaders are expected to discuss “counter-terrorism cooperation, drug rehabilitation projects, infrastructure development, maritime cooperation, and development projects,” the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

This is Abe’s third visit to the Philippines, and comes three months after Duterte’s official trip to Japan.

Abe is also expected to meet local businessmen before leaving for the southern city of Davao, where Duterte was mayor for more than two decades and earned the nickname “The Punisher” due to his tough and controversial campaign against crime.

Both leaders will meet again on Friday in Davao, a city that until now has never been visited by any foreign head of state and where Abe will also attend a conference of businessmen, before he visits the University of Mindanao.

Following this, the Japanese prime minister will conclude his visit to the Philippines and continue on his Asia-Pacific tour before returning to Tokyo on January 17.