Stronger defense cooperation with Philippines eyed as Lithuania expands Indo-Pacific presence
Fri | April 12, 2024

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April 11, 2024 (Quezon City) – Undersecretary of National Defense Irineo C. Espino, accompanied by Undersecretary for Strategic Assessment and Planning Ignacio B. Madriaga, and Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessments and International Affairs Marita I. Yoro, met H.E. Ricardas Slepavicius, Non-Resident Ambassador of Lithuania to the Philippines, and Mr. Vilijus Samuila, Minister Counsellor, on April 11, 2024, at the Department of National Defense (DND).

Ambassador Slepavicius shared Lithuania's policy towards the Indo-Pacific, recognizing the Philippines as an important part of the region and underscoring the two countries’ common interest for peace, security, and a rules-based international order. The Lithuanian Ambassador also expressed strong support for the Philippines, particularly with regard to national territorial integrity and legal rights under international law.

Undersecretary Espino recalled his previous meeting with Mr. Vaidotas Urbelis, Defense Policy Director at the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense, on the margins of the 12" International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting last January in Singapore. Further to said meeting, the Senior Undersecretary conveyed the DND's openness to holding defense talks with the Baltic state, as well as expressed interest in learning about Lithuania's experience in dealing with bellicose states.

Cognizant of the interrelatedness of security challenges in the Philippines and Lithuania, both sides looked forward to developing cooperative defense engagement between the two countries, which could include the areas of military training, cyber security, energy security, defense technology, research and development, and countering hybrid threats.

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