MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III and British Prime Minister David Cameron agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Mindanao peace process and the Philippines’ Public-Private Partnership Program (PPP).
Aquino and his Cabinet met with Cameron in 10 Downing Street on Wednesday, June 6, to discuss a host of issues ranging from politics, economy to cultural exchanges between their two countries.
The 45-minute meeting is part of Aquino’s 3-day official visit to the United Kingdom. Aquino will fly to the US on the same day.
During the meeting, Aquino invited Cameron to be the first incumbent British leader to visit the Philippines. The two leaders also agreed to hold the 3rd round of Philippines-United Kingdom High-Level Talks in London later this year.
Aquino also extended through Cameron the Philippines’ best wishes to Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her diamond jubilee.
At the start of the meeting, Aquino thanked Cameron for receiving him and his delegation “at such a very busy time and short notice.”
Cameron quipped, “We’ve had a few celebrations this weekend,” drawing laughter from both sides. Watch the video below:
Mindanao, PPP, Asean
The joint statement of the two leaders said that “Prime Minister Cameron reiterated the commitment of the United Kingdom to continue assisting in the Mindanao peace process, including through the sharing of lessons learned in the Northern Ireland peace process.”
Aquino thanked Cameron for the UK’s continuing role as a founding member of the International Contact Group for the peace process between the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The Aquino administration and the MILF are in the middle of peace negotiations aimed at ending the decades-long conflict in Mindanao. The British embassy in Manila has been closely monitoring the talks, and the UK government has been supporting key livelihood and development projects in conflict areas in central and western Mindanao.
Aquino also invited the British government to encourage investors to participate in the PPP.
“Cameron noted that the British government had provided, and would continue to provide, expertise to the Philippines in shaping its PPP programme and looked forward to British companies participating in projects.”
The statement also said that the UK welcomed the Philippines’ leading role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“Both leaders agreed that Asean had a crucial role to play in promoting prosperity and development in Asia, including by working with its partners to resolve regional disputes peacefully.”
Below is the full joint statement of Aquino and Cameron:
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT
BENIGNO AQUINO III OF THE PHILIPPINES
AND PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON OF THE UNITED KINGDOM
ON THE OCCASION OF THE
OFFICIAL VISIT TO THE UNITED KINGDOM OF
PRESIDENT BENIGNO AQUINO III, 4-6 JUNE 2012
1. H.E. Benigno Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, and Rt. Hon. David Cameron MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, met in London on 6 June 2012 on the occasion of the official visit to the United Kingdom of President Aquino.
2. With the theme “Rising Philippines, Strong Britain: Towards a New Era of Mutual Prosperity and Partnership”, the official visit provided an opportunity to reinvigorate the enduring partnership and productive cooperation between the Philippines and the United Kingdom.
3. At their meeting, President Aquino and Prime Minister Cameron had a broad exchange of views on bilateral, regional and international issues of common interest, as well as on revitalizing and sustaining the relationship towards a prosperous and secure future for both countries.
4. They both recognized that the Philippines and the United Kingdom shared common and universal values of democracy, free speech, and the rule of law, buoyed further by a shared language and growing and deepening links between their two peoples.
5. The two leaders noted the importance of continued interaction between officials at the highest levels of government. They agreed to hold the third round of Philippines-United Kingdom High-Level Talks in London later this year to review the state of the relationship and identify practical cooperation measures towards enhancing the relationship, which will be reflected in the Philippines-United Kingdom Joint Plan of Action (JPA) to be adopted at the meeting.
6. President Aquino informed Prime Minister Cameron of the latest developments in the peace negotiations between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). President Aquino recognized the United Kingdom’s continuing role as a founding and active member of the International Contact Group. In turn, Prime Minister Cameron reiterated the commitment of the United Kingdom to continue assisting in the Mindanao peace process, including through the sharing of lessons learned in the Northern Ireland peace process.
7. The two leaders welcomed the entry into force of the Philippines-United Kingdom Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT). The MLAT, which was signed in London in September 2009, facilitates information-sharing and cooperation in law enforcement and judicial matters to address transnational crime, including money laundering, trafficking of women and children, and illicit drug trafficking. The two leaders expressed the hope that the Philippines-United Kingdom Extradition Treaty would also enter into force soon.
8. The two leaders discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest. Both affirmed the need to collaborate in addressing climate change, combating transnational crime and terrorism, preventing human trafficking and child exploitation, promoting nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and maintaining international peace and security. The United Kingdom welcomed the Philippines’ leading role in ASEAN. Both leaders agreed that ASEAN had a crucial role to play in promoting prosperity and development in Asia, including by working with its partners to resolve regional disputes peacefully.
9. President Aquino congratulated the British Government for taking on the co-chairmanship of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee from March to September 2012 and as Lead Chair from September 2012 to August 2013. Both leaders expressed their shared hopes for enhancing the state of governance in order to reduce poverty and foster economic competitiveness.
10. The Philippines and the United Kingdom have enjoyed a robust economic partnership over the years. The United Kingdom is the Philippines’ top European investor, and the largest Philippine tourism market in Europe. President Aquino emphasized that the Philippines offered exciting investment opportunities for British business, especially in energy, infrastructure, business-process outsourcing, information technology, and tourism.
11. The two leaders agreed to further expand economic cooperation to pave the way for increased trade and investment flows between the two countries.
12. President Aquino briefed Prime Minister Cameron on the Philippines’ public-private partnership (PPP) programme. He invited the British government and business sector to continue sharing its vast expertise in this area, and encouraged British investors to participate in the projects. Prime Minister Cameron noted that the British government had provided, and would continue to provide, expertise to the Philippines in shaping its PPP programme and looked forward to British companies participating in projects.
13. President Aquino underscored his government’s determined efforts to ensure a positive, transparent and predictable environment for doing business in the Philippines for foreign investors, including those from the United Kingdom.
14. President Aquino and Prime Minister Cameron affirmed the rich and profound linkages between the Filipino and British peoples. The Filipino diaspora in the United Kingdom, some 250,000 with many employed in the healthcare sector, continue to make positive contributions to the British economy and society. They also recognized the vibrant role played by the 15,000-strong British community in the Philippines in contributing to the country’s economic development and promoting the overall bilateral partnership.
15. The two leaders committed themselves to intensify further people-to-people linkages, especially among students, young professionals, cultural troupes, local governments and community organizations. They also encouraged increased visitor arrivals between the two countries as fresh tourism gateways to Asia and Europe.
16. President Aquino extended, through Prime Minister Cameron, the best wishes of the Filipino people to Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee.
17. The two leaders also looked forward to the Games of the 30th Olympiad to be held in London. President Aquino conveyed his best wishes and support to Prime Minister Cameron for a successful Olympic hosting and that the Philippines looked forward to participating actively in the games.
Invitation to Visit the Philippines
18. President Aquino invited Prime Minister Cameron to be the first incumbent British leader to visit the Philippines. – Rappler.com
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