Timor-Leste on Friday expressed support for the Philippines' implementation of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as both President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Timor-Leste President José Ramos-Horta had a productive and "interesting discussion" on the West Philippine Sea.
In a joint address to the press, Marcos and Ramos-Horta said that it was only proper to uphold international law.
"It is with gratitude that we have received expressions of support for the Philippines from the President in terms of the rules, our adherence to a rules-based international law, to UNCLOS," Marcos said.
"The many suggestions and mechanisms that he brought to light can be of use to the Philippines when it comes to the challenges that we are presently facing in the South China Sea, or as we refer to it, the West Philippine Sea," Marcos said.
The President said Timor-Leste has once again demonstrated what the Philippines can contribute to advance our discussions and arguments for the ongoing commitment of all partners to a rules-based system and international law.
In his remarks, Ramos-Horta said he was "very impressed" by investors' trust and confidence in the Philippines.
"Let us expand (and) upgrade the relationship between our two countries. We are newer, only 21 years since the declaration of independence," Ramos-Horta said.
He said this wasn't his first visit to the Philippines and emphasized that the relationship between Manila and Dili was "warm and healthy."
Timor Leste, as ASEAN member
Afterward, the two had a bilateral meeting where President Marcos conveyed the Philippines' support for Timor-Leste to become a full member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.
The Philippines and Timor-Leste agreed to broaden their bilateral cooperation by reconvening the policy consultations hosted by the latter, exploring direct flights between the two nations' capitals through an air services agreement, forming a bilateral social security agreement, and strengthening educational cooperation.
Marcos said the bilateral social security agreement would serve as a "safety net" for each nation's overseas workers. The educational cooperation would facilitate more student exchanges.
"In addition, as one of the democracies in Southeast Asia, the Philippines also committed to assisting Timor-Leste in the skills formation of the Timorese people," he said.
"We committed to (increase our) engagements in such technical cooperation, and we have tasked our respective ministries to explore and enhance future partnerships on this matter," he added.
He added: "You cannot have a warmer, more productive, healthier relationship between two countries than the one enjoyed by Timor-Leste and the Philippines."
Marcos accepts invitation
In his statement, Marcos accepted the invitation of Ramos-Horta to visit Timor-Leste and further deepen the two countries' ties.
"I thank you for the very gracious invitation that you have just extended to me to visit your country, and I certainly want, and we would certainly want to continue to expand the relations between Timor Leste and the Philippines," Marcos said.
He expressed his optimism that the Timor Leste President's visit will be an important start to developing and deepening the relationship between the two countries.
"The Philippines was prominent there through the beginning of our independence, and you have been among the first countries to support our aspiration to join ASEAN," Ramos-Horta said.