Duterte set to visit Myanmar, Thailand on March 19-22

PRESIDENT Rodrigo is scheduled to hold official visits to Myanmar and Thailand, starting March 19 to 22, Foreign Affairs spokesperson Charles Jose said on Thursday.

“These visits are part of the President’s introductory visits to countries in Southeast Asia. Myanmar and Thailand are the only two remaining countries in the region that the President has not yet visited,” Jose told reporters.

“The visits to Myanmar and Thailand demonstrate our leader’s resolve to forge stronger relations with our neighbors and cooperate closely with them in various areas of endeavor,” he added.

Jose said the President is due to visit Myanmar on March 19 to 20, upon the invitation of Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw, who like Duterte assumed office in 2016.

The Philippines has been an ally of Myanmar for over 60 years as the two’s diplomatic relations had been formally forged in 1956. Myanmar is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since 1997.

Jose said Duterte is expected to hold bilateral talks with Htin Kyaw and meet other high-level government officials like State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Defense Service commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

He added that the Chief Executive would also tackle with Suu Kyi the issues of mutual concern on political cooperation, economic cooperation, and capacity building.

Jose said there are no bilateral agreements that are expected to be signed during Duterte’s visit to Myanmar.

The President would also meet the Filipino community in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw. Filipinos residing in the host country are approximately 1,800, with majority of them working in foreign firms and international organizations.

“During these occasions, the President makes it a point to apprise our countrymen about his administration’s priority programs and developments in the Philippines,” Jose said.

Jose said that after Duterte’s trip to Myanmar, he will then go to Thailand, his second visit after he travelled there in November last year to pay respects to the late Thai monarch King Bhuminol Adulyadej.

Jose said Duterte would hold a bilateral dialogue with Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, from which they would discuss issues of mutual concern, including “political, economic, agriculture, energy, education, and defense cooperation.”

“President Duterte is expected to brief Thai officials on the priorities and programs of the Philippines for its Asean chairmanship this year,” he said.

The diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Thailand were formally established in Juen 1949.

Jose said the two leaders are expected to sign agreements, which would benefit Thailand and the Philippines with regard to the areas of agriculture; science and technology; energy; and education.

Jose said Duterte would also grace a meeting with over 16,000 Filipinos living and working in Thailand. (SunStar Philippines)
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