Philippines, Timor-Leste affirm strong relations; 3 pacts inked

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III welcomed in Malacanang Timor-Leste Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, who has been on a four-day official visit to the Philippines.

The two leaders affirmed the strong relations of the two countries and witnessed the signing of three agreements.

"The discussions the Prime Minister and I had this morning affirm our dedication to strengthen the relationship between our two nations particularly through engagements in education, defense, infrastructure development, and trade," Aquino said in a joint press statement.

He said Gusmao's visit to Manila comes at a very important time for the two nations as they focus their efforts in fostering greater cooperation and solidarity in Southeast Asia.

"On this note, allow me to express the Philippine’s support for Timor-Leste’s bid to join the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) community. We look forward to working more closely with you in the future in advancing regional dialogue, which we know will redound not only to the growth of our peoples and our countries, but will also contribute to the stability and continued development of our region," he said.

Aquino thanked Timor-Leste for the 750,000-dollar assistance that it extended to the victims of Typhoon "Pablo" that hit southern part of the country late last year.

Gusmao, for his part, noted the various sectors where Timor-Leste hopes to learn from the experience of the Philippines such as tourism, agriculture and fisheries.

He said his visit to the Philippines was part of his program to visit all Asean countries this year to strengthen both bilateral and regional ties with their neighbors.

"Timor-Leste is seeking membership to Asean as we believe we can contribute to this dynamic and growing region to which we all belong," he said as he thanked the Philippines for its support for his country's bid for Asean membership.

"I will leave the Philippines with renewed confidence and hope that the strong ties of friendship and solidarity between our peoples will carry on and that our dynamic partnership will continue to strengthen in the future," Gusmao said.

Aquino and Gusmao also witnessed the signing of three agreements.

The Philippines and Timor-Leste's foreign affairs ministries inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Policy Consultations, which aims to establish a bilateral mechanism between the two foreign agencies based on the importance of dialogue and the exchange of views of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. The MOU will define the cooperation between the Philippines and Timor-Leste.

The Philippine Department of Public Works and Highways and Timor-Leste's Ministry of Public Works signed an MOU that recognizes the expertise of trainers from the DPWH and aims to build the capability of Timor-Leste Public Works' personnel in the areas of infrastructure planning, quality control, and maintenance. It establishes the cooperative approach in assisting and mentoring in order to enhance capacity development.

The Philippine Normal University and the Ministry of Education of Timor-Leste forged an MOU, which aims to develop a program for teachers and education officials of Timor-Leste on development and capacity-building in various degrees, programs and specializations.

Gusmao arrived in Manila from Singapore past midnight on Thursday and he will leave the country on June 9.

He was the first President of East Timor when it became independent on May 20, 2002. He served until May 20, 2007, and was succeeded by former President Jose Ramos Horta. Gusmao has been the fourth Prime Minister of East Timor since August 8, 2007. (SDR/Sunnex)

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