Aquino wants to further strengthen defense cooperation with Singapore

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III on Thursday sought to further strengthen defense cooperation with Singapore amid the territorial row between the Philippines and China.

Aquino, who welcomed in Malacanang visiting Singaporean President Tony Tan Keng Yam, said that during his talks with the Southeast Asian leader, they discussed about the two countries' defense and security cooperation, which includes "high-level training, educational, and intelligence exchanges.

"The Philippines proposed the holding of a Defense Dialogue in order to further strengthen our cooperation," he said.

"I believe that strengthening defense and security cooperation between the Philippines and Singapore is key to maintaining regional stability," the President added.

Aquino said he also discussed with his Singaporean counterpart the revival of the Philippines-Singapore Action Plan, as a mechanism for expanding bilateral discussions between the two countries.

The Action Plan provides a consolidated framework for strengthening the two countries' bilateral cooperation, covering expansive areas including trade and investments, information technology, education, culture, defense, and people-to-people exchanges.

"I look forward to the implementation of initiatives in these areas, knowing that it will have a positive impact on relations between the Philippines and Singapore," he said.

For his part, Tan congratulated Aquino for the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) recently.

"This is a momentous accomplishment and a testament to the leadership and efforts of President Aquino and his administration in brokering peace and stability for the Philippines and the region," he said.

The Singaporean president also said that he discussed with Aquino the developments in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

"As founding members of Asean, Singapore and the Philippines share a common vision of building a strong, united, and stable Asean community. And we will continue to work closely to promote the common interest of our region," he said.

Aquino thanked Tan for Singapore's help to the areas hit by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and for the hospitality that the latter's government and people have been giving to some 180,000 Filipinos there.

The Singaporean leader arrived in the Philippines on Wednesday for his first state visit to the country.

His four-day official visit includes a tour of Fort Santiago in Manila, dinner with the Singaporean community, and a meeting with the Philippine-Singapore Business Council.

On Saturday, he will go to Tacloban and Basey in Western Samar for a handover ceremony of a health facility there. He will leave for Singapore Saturday evening. (SDR/Sunnex)

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