Manila: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who is visiting the Philippines, on Monday held talks with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr on ways to enhance the bilateral ties, with focus on health and security in the post-pandemic times.

The Philippines foreign ministry in a series of tweets showed the Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr welcoming EAM Jaishankar to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the talks. “Secretary @teddyboylocsin and Minister @DrSJaishankar are expected to discuss the current robust ties between PH and India as well as future directions of bilateral relations. “The two officials will discuss health and security, as well as other regional and global matters of mutual interest, especially as countries continue to engage post-COVID teddyboylocsin @DrSJaishankar #DFAForgingAhead,” it posted.

This is the EAM's first visit to the ASEAN country in his capacity as Foreign Minister. He arrived on Sunday on a three-day working visit, in the backdrop of New Delhi and Manila inking a USD 374.96 million deal earlier this year for three batteries of BrahMos missiles for the Philippines Navy. The talks today would focus on the current and future directions of Philippine-India relations, including health and security cooperation, as well as other regional and global matters of mutual interest. "Minister Jaishankar's visit is considered an affirmation of the commitment between the Philippines and India to further their relations in a post-Covid world," the Philippines Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement earlier.

The two top diplomats are expected to review developments in bilateral relations since the meeting of the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation that they co-chaired in virtual format in November 2020.Among the subjects discussed back then were ways to address the global health crisis, cooperation in health and pharmaceuticals, and economic revitalization in the fields of agriculture, energy, and information and communications technology.

Also discussed were potential cooperation in maritime security, intelligence-sharing, military training, procurement and logistics, combatting terrorism, expanding air linkages and tourism, supporting growing educational and student exchanges, and in the promising areas of alternative and traditional medicine, vaccine development, and renewable energy, it said.

Apart from meeting Filipino leaders, Jaishankar would visit the Indian community in Manila during his trip.

The visit is expected to impart further momentum to bilateral relations with the Philippines, which is also a leading member of ASEAN.

The deal with BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd is for supply of shore-based supersonic cruise missile systems for the Philippines navy, as well as training for operators and maintainers as well as the necessary Integrated Logistics Supply package.