New chapter in history of Philippines and Myanmar opened

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attends a state dinner with Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Naypyitaw, Myanmar March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Pyay Kyaw Aung FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY NO SALES NO ARCHIVES

Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, spoke yesterday of the enduring bond between his country and Myanmar, which has had a six-decade diplomatic relationship, longer than the existence of the ASEAN organisation, of which both countries are members.
At an official state dinner last night, Mr Duterte and President U Htin Kyaw both gave speeches that highlighted the significant history shared by the two nations.
“My visit happens at an auspicious time for the Philippines and Myanmar,” Mr. Duterte said last night at a state banquet in Nay Pyi Taw held in his honour. “Last year, we marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Philippines-Myanmar bilateral relations. This year, we turn the page for a new chapter of ties that should rightly be stronger and deeper. Six decades of formal diplomatic relations have seen the growth of an abiding and flourishing friendship. With our common historic experiences and shared dreams of peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples, we have a unique bond that we must continue to nurture and strengthen. We have sought and seen remarkable progress and active cooperation in the areas of agriculture, labor, and trade and investment. And we aim for more.”
Earlier in the day, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the countries on food security and agricultural cooperation.
In turn President U Htin Kyaw said the rich history the countries have shared has been a mutually beneficial relationship.
“Myanmar has always attached great importance to her relations with the Philippines,” President U Htin Kyaw said last night. “Last year, our two countries celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties. We are happy to witness a steady growth in friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation between Myanmar and the Philippines. The bonds of friendship between our two countries have been strengthened as we are working hand in hand in building a better and stronger ASEAN Community. As a fellow member of  ASEAN, Myanmar will support and fully cooperate with the Philippines’ efforts towards a successful stewardship of ASEAN this year.”
ASEAN, an organization of 10 Southeast Asian countries, elects one country to be the host of the organization. The Philippines was selected this year.
President Duterte noted that Myanmar has helped his country in times of need, and expressed a desire to return the kindnesses.
“I thank you and the people of Myanmar for the timely assistance, particularly for those affected by typhoon Pablo, which hit my island of Mindanao, the earthquake in Bohol, and Typhoon Haiyan,” Mr. Duterte said. “Indeed, it is in times of need that you know that the Philippines is ready to support Myanmar in its own humanitarian challenge.
President Duterte was referring in part to Myanmar’s ongoing challenges in Rakhine State. Earlier in the day during a meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Mr. Duterte donated US$300,000 to the State Counsellor, who is chairperson of the Central Committee for the Implementation of Peace and Development in Rakhine State, to be used for humanitarian assistance for Rakhine State.
The two countries share more than just geographical affinity, and it is to their mutual benefit to continue and deepen their close relationship, Mr Duterte said.
“My visit demonstrates the commitment of my country to expand cooperation with Myanmar on a broad range of issues.
As developing countries, we face many similar and complex problems. We must not be afraid to confront them head on.
We should use our friendship as a solid base, a fulcrum of collaboration that transforms challenges into opportunities.
In defense and security, we must work closer to address the threats of terrorism and violent extremism that can undermine the economic progress we have so far achieved. We should be unremitting in our fight to dismantle the apparatus of the illicit drug trade. This menace is a challenge that knows no borders and affects us all in the region,” Mr. Duterte said.
President U Htin Kyaw echoed Mr. Duterte’s thoughts.
“I would like to reassure Your Excellency of Myanmar’s readiness to work closely with the Philippines both in bilateral and other regional and international  contexts to enhance our bilateral cooperation and promote peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world as large. Once again, I would like to express my deep appreciation and sincere thanks to Your Excellency Mr Rodrigo Roa Duterte for this opportunity to share our hopes and joys,” President U Htin Kyaw said.
Mr Duterte arrived in Myanmar on Sunday and returned to the Philippines last night.—Myanmar News Agency

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