MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III leaves for a two-leg trip to meet with two of the most powerful world leaders.
Aquino left Manila on Monday, June 4, for a visit to the United Kingdom and the United States. He left for London via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight with an 89-member delegation. (For the President’s official delegation, read this.)
The highlights of the trip will be a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron in 10 Downing Street, and an Oval Office meeting with US President Barack Obama.
In his departure statement, Aquino said his visit aims to strengthen the Philippines’ relationship with the two countries in areas ranging from the economy, peace and security to politics.
“The United Kingdom is our partner in improving the skills of our police and in fighting global terrorism through the Regional Council of Terrorism Investigations Management Course,” said Aquino. Watch his statement here:
“The UK is also active in participating in the International Contact Group to strengthen peace talks in Mindanao.”
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr said the government is spending P87.1 million for Aquino’s trips to the UK and the US.
Aquino has said he will also raise the Philippines’ dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea with Cameron and Obama.
This is Aquino’s first European trip since he became head of state in 2010. The UK is the Philippines’ top European investor and its biggest tourism market in Europe.
Besides his meeting with Cameron, Aquino will also attend business meetings with British and European investors.
“We will witness the signing of business deals with Shell, Gaz Asia, Aboitiz, Rolls Royce, and Cebu Pacific,” the President said.
Aquino said European investors will provide services in information technology, business process outsourcing, renewable energy, electronics, and Public-Private Partnership projects.
Fourth Obama meet
On June 6, Wednesday, Aquino will head to Washington for his meeting with Obama, US Secretary Hillary Clinton and American legislators.
“We will assess our cooperation in security issues to see how we can strengthen the capabilities of the Philippines as an American ally, and ensure peace in the Asia Pacific region,” said Aquino.
Aquino’s meeting with Obama will be their fourth in a span of two years. The Foreign Affairs Department said the leaders will discuss economic and security issues, and US focus in the Asia-Pacific region.
Clinton will host a luncheon in Aquino’s honor at the State Department in Washington.
Aquino will also meet with US senators at a reception organized by US Senate President Pro Tempore Daniel Inouye at the US Capitol.
US-PH Society, Fil-Ams, Jessica Sanchez
The President will be the guest of honor at the launch of the US-Philippine Society, a private sector initiative aimed to encourage economic ties, and strengthen ties in politics, culture, technology and education.
Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan co-chairs the Society with American diplomat and former US ambassador to Manila John Negroponte. Honorary chairs are Washington Sycip and Maurice “Hank” Greenberg.
Aquino will also take the time to meet with Filipinos in the UK and Los Angeles.
“Aside from thanking them for contributing to the economy, we will listen to their stories, grievances, and needs to strive to address these. They may be far but we will remind them that they are still our boss,” said Aquino.
Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters Aquino will have an opportunity to meet American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez in LA. Sanchez is an American citizen of Filipino-Mexican descent. – Rappler.com