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Monday, December 15, 2014

PNoy Eyes Wide Ranging Partnership with South Korea

President Aquino is eyeing a comprehensive strategic partnership with South Korea, which affirms its support on its defense cooperation agreement with the Philippines.
Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said President Aquino conveyed his intention to pursue a wide-ranging partnership with the democratic Korean government during his bilateral meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye during the 25th ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ASEAN-ROK).
In their talks, Coloma said both leaders sought to boost Philippine-South Korea security ties, as Aquino noted that the two countries are “sister democracies” that “face the same threats and challenges of an evolving region,” while sharing the “values of freedom, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law.”
President Park, in return, acknowledged South Korea’s support in its defense partnership with the Philippines, which is facing a territorial and maritime dispute with neighboring China.
South Korea is one of the Philippines’ most trusted military ally, its relationship stretching far back during the Korean War.
The Philippines entered into an P18.9-billion contract with Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) for the acquisition of 12 lead-in trainer fighter jets, which Park recalled the Philippines had initiated after Aquino’s state visit to Seoul last year.
The government is expecting the jets to be delivered starting next year, and is targeting complete turnover of the aircraft by 2017. Apart from the 12 FA-50 fighter aircraft, the Philippines also pursued acquisition of transport equipment and raw materials for the government arsenal.
South Korea is also planning to donate a patrol combat corvette, a landing utility and 16 rubber boats to the Philippines.
A South Korean media, Chosun Ilbo, earlier reported China is protesting South Korea’s “warship donations” to the Philippines after it announced its plans to donate the 1,200-ton patrol boat and landing vessel to the country apart from the Pohang-class guided missile corvette which it plans to give to the Philippines as a “small token” for its sacrifices during the Korean War.
The acquisition of the fighter jets is so far considered one of the most costly military modernization programs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Aquino is scheduled to meet Sung Yong-ha, president and Chief Executive Officer of KAI, and ROK air force officials for the viewing of the FA-50 aircrafts at the tarmac of Gimhae Airbase in Busan on the second day of the summit, Dec. 12.
On regional security concerns, Coloma said the two leaders reviewed the situation in the Korean Peninsula and in the West Philippine Sea.
Aquino reiterated the Philippines’ support for South Korea’s aims to push for a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the early resumption of the six-party talks.
Aquino noted that the two countries “shared stake in maintaining unimpeded commerce and freedom of navigation in the region.”
Coloma also said Aquino a sought South Korea’s “continued support for the pursuit of a peaceful, rules-based resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.”
The Philippines established bilateral relations with South Korea on Mar. 3, 1949 when the Philippines became the 5th country to recognize the newly-established republic.
In September 1950, the Philippines joined the United Nations-sanctioned and United States-led 16 nation coalition in defending the ROK against North Korean invasion.
President Aquino is currently here for the two-day commemorative summit between South Korea and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that kicked off in Busan Thursday as Seoul aims to bolster its ties with neighboring bloc. 

South Korea hosted the summit to boost its cooperation with ASEAN nations in the areas of trade, business, culture, tourism, politics, and security.
ASEAN is South Korea’s second largest trading partner and third-largest investment destination.
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