(Eagle News) — President Rodrigo Duterte and South Korean President Moon Jae-in both committed to elevate the level of their countries’ relations to “strategic partnership” by 2020, as the two leaders noted the 70 years of strong bilateral relations and friendship between the two countries.
“Mr. President, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you together with the Korean people. Your visit comes at a very meaningful time as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations this year,” President Moon said in remarks on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019 during the bilateral talks with President Duterte who is in South Korea to attend the ASEAN-South Korea Commemorative Summit
“Based on our history of friendship and trust, the time is right for our two countries to think about elevating our relations to a strategic partnership,” he said speaking at the Westin Chosun Busan Hotel, the venue of the bilateral meeting of the two Asian leaders.
“The elevation of our relations will pave the way for our two countries to engage in greater cooperation that will lead us to common prosperity,” the South Korean leader stressed.
In his opening remarks during the bilateral meeting with President Moon, President Duterte said the Philippines will continue to strive hard to strengthen its relations with South Korea.
“I assure you that the Philippines will continue to find common cause and purpose with the Republic of Korea towards enhancing our bilateral engagement and promoting peace and stability in your region,” the President said in his remarks.
-70 years of bilateral relations-
President Moon said that many events held in Korea to commemorate its 70 years of bilateral relations with the Philippines have brought “the Korean people closer to the Philippines.”
He also noted how the Philippines was one of the first countries to help them during the Korean War, as he thanked the country for being a friend of South Korea.
“The Philippines was the first among ASEAN countries to establish diplomatic relations with Korea and also the first to dispatch troops to fight on our side during the Korean War. I’d like to express my profound gratitude to the people of the Philippines for their lasting friendship over the past 70 years and to you Mr. President for your great affection for Korea,” President Moon said.
“The Korean people love the Philippines. Koreans are the number one visitors to the Philippines while our bilateral trade volume surpassed the 15 billion US dollars mark for the first time last year,” he said,
In fact, he said, numerous Korean companies are already doing business in the Philippines including in the fields of energy, electricity, electronics, textiles, and shipbuilding.
President Duterte, for his part, noted that the Philippines and the Republic of Korea “share a unique affinity.”
“We became blood brothers in 1950s on the altar of freedom. In 1980, the world watched as we waged a parallel struggle for democracy. In the meantime, our economies took diverging paths and fortunes,” he said in his remarks during his bilateral meeting with President Moon.
The Philippine leader recognized South Korea’s economic feat, commending it for becoming one of Asia’s economic and technological powerhouses. The Philippines, he said, continues to persevere and is now in the path towards development as a well-performing and emerging economy.
“The Republic of Korea rose to become one of Asia’s economic and technological powerhouses. Ours faltered, but with perseverance, the Philippines has since recovered and is now [a] well-performing, emerging economy,” Duterte said.
The two leaders also promised to ramp up cooperation on multiple areas such as trade and investment, infrastructure development, defense, education, and tourism.
The past seven years, President Duterte said, time has witnessed the rising level of cooperation between the two countries. “Our cooperation encompasses various spheres –from trade, investment, and official development assistance (ODA) to infrastructure development, defense, science, technology, and agriculture.”
The South Korean president also praised the country’s tremendous economic growth, noting “the Philippines is the future of ASEAN” as it continues to achieve an impressive growth rate of 6 percent each year under President Duterte’s outstanding leadership.
“Through our meeting today, I hope to strengthen my friendship with you and expand our bilateral cooperation to contribute further to the development of ASEAN,” he told the Philippine leader.
In 2018, South Korea was the Philippines’ fourth largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to over $13 billion. It was also a valued source of foreign direct investments, ranking 13th in the same year.