Aquino to hold talks with Malaysia, Singapore PMs

September 25, 2010 11:34 am 

MANILA, Sept. 24 — President Benigno S. Aquino III will hold a bilateral meeting with the Prime Ministers of Malaysia and Singapore, its two biggest trading partners in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), before attending the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting on Friday morning in New York.

In a media briefing in Malacanang, Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Edwin Lacierda said the President's first schedule was the bilateral meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak at the UN headquarters on Friday morning (10:30 p.m. Manila time).

Aside from being an important trading partner, Malaysia is the second main source of foreign investments for the Philippines among the ASEAN member countries.

Lacierda said the meeting would also be an opportunity for the President to formally and personally inform Prime Minister Najib Razak of the Philippine government's decision to retain Malaysia as third party facilitator in the continuation of formal talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Lacierda said the President would then hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, the Philippines' largest trading partner in the ASEAN.

He said Singapore was also the country's 14th largest trading partner in the world, with total trade amounting to US$ 11.6 billion in 2009.

Aside from a strong bilateral trade relationship, the Philippines and Singapore have also agreed to improve tourism and security cooperation.

Lacierda said the President would attend the 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders' Meeting at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Friday afternoon (1:00 a.m. Saturday in Manila).

"The Philippines is the country coordinator for the ASEAN-US dialogue relations and we will be the third speaker during the discussions," Lacierda said.

During the meeting, Lacierda said the leaders were expected to adopt a joint statement and approve the terms of reference of the ASEAN-US Eminent Persons Group, which would recommend strategic partnerships between ASEAN member countries and the US in the fields of political security, and economic and socio-cultural cooperation.

During their first meeting in Singapore in November 2009, the ASEAN leaders and US President Barack Obama pledged to deepen cooperation in trade and investment, regional security, disaster management, food and energy security, and climate change.

After the ASEAN-US meeting the President would meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and address the 65th UN General Assembly at around 6:15 p.m. Friday in New York (6:15 a.m. Saturday in Manila),, Lacierda said .

At the UN, the President is expected to call for international cooperation in addressing global issues and discuss the Philippines' commitment to fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and continued support for UN peacekeeping missions.

At around 8 p.m. on Friday (8 a.m. Saturday in Manila), Lacierda said the President would then board a chartered plane bound for San Jose, California. (PNA) RMA/PCOO/ssc

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