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Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop calls on PH Pres. Noyoy Aquino

Foreign Minister Bishop calls on PH President Aquino

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop calls on PH Pres. Noyoy Aquino
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop calls on PH Pres. Noyoy Aquino/Malacanan Press Photo

February 20 – Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop together with some officials paid a courtesy call on President Benigno S. Aquino III at the Malacanan Palace’s Music Room.

Bishop was joined by Australian Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, New South Wales Premier Barry Robert O’Farrell, and Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell.

The Philippine officials were led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo, Philippine Ambassador to Australia Belen Anota and DTI Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr.

Bishop and her party arrived in the country for the official launching of the ASEAN-Australia 40th Anniversary Commemoration held Thursdayat The Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City.

An earlier DFA statement said that the launch will mark 40 years of successful dialogue partnership between the ASEAN and Australia and will also serve as a “great opportunity to chart a new strategic direction, complementing ASEAN’s focus on strengthening regional integration through the ASEAN Community 2015 and beyond.”

Secretary del Rosario and Foreign Minister Bishop led the launch in the presence of ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh. The event also envisions the gathering of top diplomats, including the Heads of Mission/Representatives of all ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners in the Philippines, as they reflect on the depth of ASEAN-Australia engagement in security, culture, trade, education, people-to-people exchanges and development.

Australia is ASEAN’s first formal dialogue partner.

Aside from the ASEAN-Australia 40th Anniversary Commemoration, Bishop and her party will also be attending the 4th Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) from February 20 to 21.

The Philippine and Australian officials are expected to discuss regional and global developments and priorities, areas of mutual interest, and cooperation in international relations and trade.

Australia is one of the Philippines’ closest bilateral partners in the Asia-Pacific region. The PAMM began as the Philippines-Australia Dialogue in 1997 and was upgraded to a Joint Ministerial Meeting in 2005. It sets the direction and vision of the Philippines-Australia bilateral relations and serves as the forum to discuss initiatives and activities to strengthen the bilateral partnership.

Meantime, New South Wales Premier O’ Farrell, who was part of Bishop’s delegation during the courtesy call, also embarked on several engagements in the country as he met with key business leaders, and private sector representatives wherein he discussed political and economic cooperation as well as people-to-people exchanges.

This is the first time O’Farrell visited the country since he was elected in 2011 in New South Wales — Australia’s oldest and largest state, which is home to almost 50 percent of Filipinos living in Australia.

He has pledged AU$500,000 on behalf of their government for the relief and recovery efforts for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). PND (jb)