Australia and the Philippines have tightened relations by signing a strategic partnership pact. The countries have agreed to cooperate in more areas, such as security.
The move may be aimed at countering China's increasing maritime activities in the Asia Pacific region.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese traveled to the Philippine capital, Manila. He met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Albanese is the first Australian prime minister to make an official visit to the country in decades.
The leaders signed a new strategic partnership. The deal bumps relations between the countries up to the next level. The previous agreement was a lower-tier comprehensive partnership. It was signed in 2015.
The leaders held a joint news conference. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, "This signing of the joint declaration of strategic partnership signals our mutual commitment to deepening collaboration across a spectrum of areas that are vital to both our country's growth and prosperity."
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, "I'm confident Australia and the Philippines can rise to meet the new challenges and help to realize our vision of an open, peaceful and stable region."
The new partnership enhances security cooperation and calls for annual defense talks to be held. The nations conducted a joint military drill in the Philippines last month.