Kishida, Duterte to consider 'two-plus-two' talks

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have agreed to consider launching "two-plus-two" talks between their defense and foreign ministers.

Kishida and Duterte held a teleconference on Wednesday evening.

Kishida began by mentioning his visit to Duterte's home city of Davao in 2016 when he was Japan's foreign minister. He pledged continued support for the Philippines' infrastructure development including railways, and coronavirus responses.

Duterte congratulated Kishida on assuming office, and said Japan is "a friend closer than a brother."

The two leaders also agreed to advance cooperation to realize a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two nations.

Kishida told Duterte that he strongly opposes unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Seas amid China's increasing maritime activities.

Duterte and Kishida also agreed that the two countries will coordinate in dealing with North Korea, including the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by the North.