PRESIDENT Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Monday met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the highlight of his three-day state visit to the Philippines' southern neighbor.

The President, accompanied by first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and several members of his Cabinet, was welcomed to the Bogor Presidential Palace in Jakarta by Widodo and first lady Iriana Widodo.

During their meeting, Marcos stressed the importance of further strengthening the Philippine's 73-year diplomatic ties with Indonesia, a partnership that is "of critical importance" to stability, peace and development in the region.

"These partnerships that we make with all our partners and allies and friends around the world will be of critical importance so that we remain stable as we grow out of the pandemic economy and we work together and help each other to develop regional peace and regional development," Marcos said.

He thanked Widodo for inviting him to Indonesia.

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"I believe that we have made the proper choice in coming to Jakarta as my first state visit as President of the Philippines and I believe that this is only the beginning of many more things to come between Indonesia and the Philippines," he added.

Marcos described Indonesia as "not only a neighbor, not only a friend, but kin," and that the Philippines will always be indebted for all the assistance it has extended to the country under the Duterte administration, especially during the height of the pandemic.

With a strong partnership, the Philippines and Indonesia could be "the lead agents of change" for everlasting and stable peace and development in the region, the President said.

Marcos and Widodo also witnessed the signing of several defense and security, agriculture and economic agreements.

The Philippine leader said he and Widodo "have agreed to organize task forces already to meet and discuss even at the technical level."

At a joint news conference, Marcos said increasing the volume of trade between their nations had been important in their talks.

He said the strategic partnership between Indonesia and the Philippines, and also with partners, allies and friends around the world, "will be of critical importance so that we remain stable as we grow out of the pandemic economy."

Widodo said his government has proposed revitalizing a ferry line connecting the border cities of Bitung and Davao and opening a direct flight between Manado, in eastern Indonesia and Davao, in the southern Philippines, to spur trade and their countries' economies.

"I am pleased that we have renewed the cooperative trilateral between Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia because it is very important in securing waterways from the threat of hostage-taking and kidnapping," Widodo said.

Marcos wraps up his visit to Indonesia today, September 6, and will immediately proceed to Singapore for another state visit.

In Singapore, he will have separate meetings with President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before flying back to Manila on Wednesday.

WITH AP