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Philippines, Pakistan seek closer ties
www.chinaview.cn 2005-04-19 18:04:49

     
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf gesture to the crowds during the welcome ceremony in honor of visiting Musharraf in Manila April 19, 2005. Musharraf arrived here late Monday for a three-day visit to the Philippines.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf gesture to the crowds during the welcome ceremony in honor of visiting Musharraf in Manila April 19, 2005. Musharraf arrived here late Monday for a three-day visit to the Philippines.
MANILA, April 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Extensive consensus in cooperation was reached Tuesday as the Philippine and Pakistani leaders sought closer relations between the two countries in the defense, economy,culture and politics.

    Four agreements were signed in the presence of President GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo and visiting Pakistani President Pervez Musharrafin the presidential palace.

    The first document, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on combating terrorism and certain other crimes, is envisioned to facilitate sustained security and intelligence coordination as well as practical, comprehensive and forward-looking cooperation in disrupting terrorist and transnational concerns and transnational crimes, the government said in a statement.

    The second agreement is on the abolition of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic passports and the facilitation of issuance of entry visas to holders of official passports.

    The two countries also signed a program of cultural exchanges from 2005 to 2009, calling for the implementation of various exchanges in the cultural information materials, performing arts and the promotion, conservation, restoration of historical and cultural patrimony.

    To enhance bilateral trade, the two countries also signed a MOUformalizing the business agreements between the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) and United Marketing of Pakistan for the supply of pharmaceuticals from Pakistan to support the low-cost medicines program of the Philippine government.

    The Philippine government said that since 2000, the PITC has been implementing the government's parallel importation program for pharmaceuticals, which involves the purchase of medicines of guaranteed quality from original manufacturers in countries where they can be sourced cheaper than in the Philippines.

    Apart from the four agreements, President Musharraf also assured Pakistan's full support for the Philippine government's efforts to end the decades old rebellion in the southern islands of Mindanao.

    "As far as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are concerned, let me assure you, President (Arroyo), that you will find Pakistan on your side.We believe in harmony. We believe in the peaceful resolution" of conflicts, Musharraf told the President during their bilateral talks.

    He also told Arroyo that he would support the Philippines' policy of continuing the implementation of the 1976 and 1996 peaceaccords signed between the government and MNLF, and possibly, the peace agreement to be signed with the MILF.

    Musharraf assured Pakistan's support for the Philippines' bid for a permanent observer status in the influential Organization ofIslamic Conference (OIC), of which, Pakistan is a regular member.

    He informed President Arroyo that in June 2005, the OIC would hold a special ministerial meeting in Yemen to resolve technical problems within the organization, and settle certain differences among the OIC member nations.

    Arroyo told Musharraf that the Philippines needs to be part of the OIC so that "our Muslim brothers here in the Philippines can feel that they are also important in the Muslim countries."

    Musharraf, who started Monday his three-day state visit to Manila, is the first Pakistani president to visit the Philippines since diplomatic ties between the two countries were established in September 1949. Enditem

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