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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has “conveyed” to South Korea its intention to form a “comprehensive strategic partnership” that would further bolster bilateral cooperation between the two Asian nations.
President Benigno Aquino III made the pitch during his bilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-Hye in Busan on Thursday, December 11, the day of his arrival in South Korea to attend the 25th ASEAN-Republic of Korea Commemmorative Summit.
“He noted that the two countries are ‘sister democracies’ that ‘face the same threats and challenges of an evolving region’, while sharing the ‘values of freedom, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law’,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, who is part of the President’s delegation.
Coloma did not provide details of the proposed partnership.
Coloma said the two leaders also talked about regional security concerns – Aquino “reiterated the Philippines’ support for efforts on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the early resumption of the 6-party talks.”
The Philippine President also “noted the two countries’ shared stake in maintaining unimpeded commerce and freedom of navigation in the region and sought South Korea’s continued support for the pursuit of a peaceful, rules-based resolution of disputes in the South China Sea,” the Palace official said.
During the meeting, Park cited examples of the two countries’ strong defence cooperation agreement, among them, the Philippine acquisition of 12 FA-50 fighter aircraft, transport equipment, and raw materials for the government arsenal from the state-owned Korean aerospace firm, and Korea’s donation to the Philippines of a patrol combat corvette, a landing craft utility, and 16 rubber boats.
In a statement, Park also expressed South Korea’s “deepest condolences and sympathies” to Aquino and the Filipino people for the lives lost form Typhoon Ruby, and gave assurances of assistance.
Aquino too returned the sympathies, expressing his condolences on the sinking of Korean fishing vessel Oryong 501. Three of the 13 Filipino crewmembers of the vessel were rescued, 5 confirmed dead, and the remaining 5 still missing.
The Philippine leader also cited South Korea’s assistance to the country in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
“He cited the joint support group or the Araw Troop, which provided assistance in Leyte and worked on the rehabilitation of schools, hospitals, welfare facilities and public offices, and conducted medical operations. South Korea also donated engineering equipment and supplies,” Coloma said.
Aside from disaster assistance, Aquino thanked South Korea for other help extended to the country, recognizing Korean companies Hanjin and Phoenix Semiconductor Philippines Corporation for their investments in the Philippines.
Other issues discussed were bilateral agreements in basic education and technical-vocational education, criminal cases on the deaths of South Korean nationals in the Philippines, police help desks for Koreans in the Philippines, the possibility of tourist police units, and increased dialogue with the Korean community.
Aquino arrived in Busan Thursday afternoon, and met with Park at about 3:45 pm Korea time, before proceeding to a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Abdul Razak.
On Thursday night, he toured the Experience in Korean Traditional Arts and Craft Exhibition at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center, before attending the welcome dinner hosted by Park for Summit guests.
On Friday, he attended the first session of the ASEAN-ROK Summit which reviewed ASEAN-ROK Cooperation and its future direction, as well as a second session chaired by Myanmar on cooperation regarding non-traditional security issues and climate change and disaster management.
He then toured a special exhibition on public governance and attended the Leaders’ Luncheon, before meeting withpHa Sung-Yong, President and CEO Of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Ltd; and General Choi Cha Gyu, Chief of Staff of the ROK Air Force for the viewing of the FA-50 aircraft at the tarmac of the Gimhae Air Base.
Aquino was in South Korea for an overnight trip for the 25th ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit. He departed Busan before 5 pm on Friday, December 12, and is expected to arrive in Manila at about 8 pm on the same day. – Rappler.com