By Sohn JiAe
Photos = Cheong Wa Dae
President Moon Jae-in hosted a summit with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on an official visit to Korea for three days, on June 4 and reaffirmed the Philippine government’s agreement to expand bilateral exchanges and to cooperate on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
At the second summit between Korea and the Philippines, after the first in Manila in November last year, the two leaders highly appreciated what the two countries have witnessed over the past seven decades since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1949. The two countries have some 2 million tourists coming and going, and the total volume of trade last year topped USD 14.3 billion.
The two sides discussed ways to further increase bilateral exchanges across various areas. They agreed to more frequent high-level meetings and an increase in the economic development cooperation fund (EDCF) to finance infrastructure projects up to USD 1 billion. They also vowed to expand bilateral cooperation on transportation, energy, IT, science and agriculture, and to boost human-to-human exchanges by designating 2019 as the “Year of Bilateral Exchanges between Korea and the Philippines.”
President Moon stressed, in particular, that he hoped his administration’s New Southern Policy, aimed to achieve a people-centered nation where the people live in peace together, would contribute to the materialization of the Duterte government’s national development plan, known as Ambisyon Natin 2040, a long-term initiative to end poverty across the Philippines by 2040.
President Moon called the two countries “very special friends” in a subsequent joint press conference, pointing out that the Philippines was the first Southeast Asian country with which Korea made a modern diplomatic relationship.
“Manila is a core partner in the New Southern Policy that our government is pushing forward. Today, I’ve had an in-depth discussion with President Duterte to develop Korea-Philippines ties in a more future-oriented manner,” President Moon stressed.
In response, President Duterte said, “The Philippines has a lot to learn from Korea, a country that has transformed itself successfully into one of the world’s greatest economies over the past years. We’ll work with this nation to develop new, innovative key industries in our nation.”
The Philippine leader also clarified his support for the Korean government’s efforts to pursue denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“I recognize President Moon’s vision that will bring peace, security and prosperity to the peninsula. President Moon’s down-to-earth dedication to that end is seen in the outcomes of the historic April Inter-Korena Summit, the Panmunjeom Declaration,” he said.
“We hope that the development we’ve seen regarding the peninsula over recent months will contribute to achieving our common goal, denuclearization. As responsible members of the international community, the Philippines and Korea will continue to support each other to make this goal happen,” President Duterte added.
Taking advantage of this summit, the two sides signed five memoranda of understanding to expand cooperation on transportation infrastructure, the economy and trade, the supply of renewable energy, science and technology, and, lastly, construction of a new container terminal in Cebu.