Friday, September 2, 2011

A Repost From Delon Porcalla of The Philippine Star

After China state visit, P-Noy off to US, Japan
By Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) Updated September 03, 2011 12:00 AM Comments (30) View comments

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President Aquino is joined by Chinese Ambassador Liu Jianchao, who acted as his tour guide at the Badaling Section of the Great Wall in Beijing last Thursday. Some 400 state leaders and VIPs have climbed Badaling and admired the scenery at the Great Wall’s best preserved and most popular section.
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MANILA, Philippines - After his state visit to China, President Aquino is embarking on two more state visits this month, this time to the United States and Japan – the Philippines’ first and second largest trading partners, respectively.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte confirmed to Palace reporters yesterday that Aquino is set to visit Washington and Tokyo this month.

“All in September? I think, yes, all in September,” she said, without providing details.

The President ends his five-day state visit to China today. China is the country’s third largest trading partner.

“I think there are several invitations for consideration also. I will have to get confirmation from DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) because several countries have also extended their invitations to the President. I am not quite sure how the details are being threshed out,” Valte added.

“We can confirm that there is an invitation sent but we have no confirmation yet on whether the President will be accepting,” she said referring to an invitation from US President Barack Obama. Asked about details of the invitation from Tokyo, she said “still no confirmation from the DFA.”

But a source said Aquino’s Japan trip has been set for the first week of October while his US visit is likely to take place between Sept. 20 and 25. The source said Obama sent his invitation shortly before Aquino’s departure for China.

Another source revealed Aquino’s US trip may also include attendance at the UN General Assembly in New York, normally held in September.

Aquino is also scheduled to attend the ASEAN Summit next month in Bali, Indonesia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in mid-November.

So far, Aquino has visited eight countries since his assumption into office in June 2010.

President Aquino tours the Forbidden City in Beijing yesterday.

He was in the US in September last year for the UN General Assembly, in Vietnam for a state visit in October and in Japan for the APEC summit.

He also embarked on state visits to Indonesia and Singapore last March and to Thailand and Brunei in May. He is expected to visit some European countries next year.

Valte said Aquino really has to juggle his official travels because of numerous invitations from heads of state.

“We really have to visit our neighbors. And, of course, being one of the relatively new presidents in the region, our President has been receiving many invitations,” she said.

She said Palace officials have to carefully study each invitation considering the President’s “very hectic schedule.”

Reposted From Delon Porcalla of The Philippine Star

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Repost From Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer

Spratlys: Sea of friendship

Both sides ‘very positive’ in resolving maritime row


‘OPEN FOR BUSINESS’. President Aquino and President Hu Jintao witness the signing of an economic agreement between the Philippines and China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday. Earlier, Mr. Aquino said the Philippines is “open for business.” EDWIN BACASMAS

Beijing—President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday told Chinese President Hu Jintao of his wish that the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea be settled with a “regional” solution, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said after the bilateral meeting between the two leaders.

In response, Hu reiterated the Chinese position that the dispute be resolved peacefully, Lacierda told reporters at a quick briefing outside the Great Hall of the People where the two leaders met.

The presidential spokesperson said Hu also encouraged the development of the strategic waterway into “a sea of friendship, peace and cooperation.”

“So both sides were very positive in addressing the issue in the South China Sea,” Lacierda said, referring to what China calls the body of water.

Spratlys, a group of islands in the West Philippine Sea that is believed to contain oil and gas deposits, is claimed in whole or in part by the Philippines, China and four other countries.

The Philippines has started oil and gas explorations in what Beijing considers its territory. Early this year, Manila accused Beijing of harassing its oil survey ship.

Beijing said recent construction work on an island by Philippine troops violated the spirit of a preliminary agreement with other Southeast Asian nations.

Lacierda said it was Mr. Aquino who initiated the discussion on the West Philippine Sea.

“He mentioned that we have differences but these differences should not deter us from moving forward,” Lacierda said.

The spokesperson said Mr. Aquino also mentioned the position of the Philippine government because the dispute over the Spratlys was a regional problem that required a regional solution.

Asked what Mr. Aquino meant by a regional solution, Lacierda said: “Because (of) the various claimants in the disputes.”

Trooping the line

Before the two leaders met, the national anthems of the two countries were played and both Mr. Aquino and Hu trooped the line of Chinese soldiers and Navy and Air Force personnel.

The two leaders then went into a bilateral meeting after the formal ceremonies.

Hu told Mr. Aquino that his state visit would enhance the relationship between the Philippines and China.

“I believe your visit to China will further deepen our friendship, promote our practical cooperation and elevate the strategic and cooperative relationship between our two countries to a new high,” Hu said.

Mr. Aquino apologized for taking too long on acting on the invitation of the Chinese leader who was the first to invite him when the former assumed the Philippine presidency.

“But it is a truly worthwhile trip so far and… we will spend this opportunity to broaden and deepen the ties that have been existing between our peoples centuries upon centuries,” Mr. Aquino said.

NorthRail project

Lacierda said that the issue of the NorthRail project was also discussed and that Chinese officials agreed with the proposition that it be “reconfigured.”

“The President mentioned that there were certain issues and in the NorthRail project that needed to be reconfigured. And the Chinese agreed and so in their own words, they attach a high importance to the project. Both sides directed their officials concerned with the project to resolve the NorthRail issue,” Lacierda said.

The NorthRail project, started during the Arroyo administration, is considered overpriced. The Chinese-sponsored project was initially worth $503 million but its cost reportedly ballooned to $2 billion.

Lacierda said the discussions between the two leaders delved mainly on trade and cooperation.

“What dominated the discussions primarily promotion of trade and investments and cultural, and the ties that bind the two countries,” he said.

“Generally the discussion was an expression of warmth on both sides. They welcomed each other. President Hu Jintao welcomed the Philippine President and President Aquino thanked the Chinese for their hospitality and grace in welcoming them,” he added.

Year of Philippine friendship

Lacierda said Mr. Aquino asked Hu to declare 2012-2013 as the year of Philippine friendship and “President Hu gladly agreed.”

The spokesperson also said Mr. Aquino encouraged more investments from the Chinese.

“Basically, we talked about issues, the ideas of investments, promoting more investments in the country. The President encouraged the Chinese side to invest more and the Chinese side also said they are willing to invest more in the Philippines and hopefully they can push with the $60-billion investment by 2016,” Lacierda said.

Hu and Mr. Aquino were expected to witness the signing of several agreements before a state banquet was held for the state visitor.

Reposted From Norman Bordadora of Philippine Daily Inquirer


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