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President Duterte to trumpet strength of relations with Republic of Korea


President Rodrigo Duterte will highlight the importance of the relations between Manila and Seoul during his three-day official visit to the Republic of Korea next week, Department of Foreign Affairs undersecretary Ernesto Abella said on Friday.

“The significance of this visit… basically has to do with conveying to the Republic of Korea the importance of its partnership with the Philippines and to reaffirm the strength of Philippine-Republic of Korea relations,” Abella said in a pre-departure briefing in Malacañan.

He added that the Philippines is among the first nations in the world and the first among Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states to establish official diplomatic relations with Korea.

“We actually celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Philippines-Korea relations in this coming year 2019,” Abella said, noting that official diplomatic relations between the Philippines and South Korea had been established on March 3, 1949.

During his first official visit to Seoul on June 3-5, President Duterte will participate in a summit meeting, a business luncheon forum and at the E-Mart Philippine Food Festival.

In the summit meeting, South Korea President Moon Jae-in and President Duterte are expected to discuss the Philippine-Korea relationship and the rehabilitation of Marawi City, among others. The Republic of Korea has donated US$100,000 to the Philippine Red Cross.

They will also discuss social cooperation or the protection of nationals of both countries.

Abella said about 1.6 million Korean tourists visited the Philippines and 450,000 Filipino tourists went to Korea in 2017, aside from the expatriates in each country.

Agricultural cooperation and the market access for Philippine exports, especially okra, avocado and tropical fruits, will also be tackled during the summit meeting.

The two leaders will also discuss plans to cooperate in environmental protection for both bilateral and multilateral aspects.

A joint press conference will be held after the meeting between the two leaders.

During the official visit, four agreements will be inked and witnessed by Duterte and Moon.

These are the memorandum of understanding concerning cooperation in the field of transport between the Department of Transportation and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the Department of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Science and ICT; and Trade and Economic Cooperation by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

A loan agreement on the New Cebu International Container Port Project between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Export-Import Bank of Korea will also be signed.

Duterte will also meet with the Filipino community in South Korea. An estimated 68,000 Filipinos are currently residing in South Korea, comprising of workers who entered the country under the employment permit system, students, professionals, missionaries and spouses of Korean nationals.

The official visit has been in the works since President Moon invited President Duterte at the sidelines of the East ASEAN Summit in Manila in November 2017, Abella said.#