The Philippines regards Sri Lanka as a valued friend and development partner, and will continue to extend all support and goodwill to the country, Mr. Albert del Rosario, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said in Manila on August 2nd.
He made these remarks at the bilateral discussions with External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris, in Manila.
Minister Peiris gave his counterpart in the government of the Philippines a comprehensive briefing on recent political and economic developments in the country, with particular reference to its accomplishments in respect of responding effectively to the needs of those who had been displaced by the thirty year conflict, and the re-integration into society of ex-combatants. He referred to the activating of the electoral process, and the arrangements being made for the upcoming elections to the Provincial Council of the Northern Province. The Minister also described the government’s plans for the major business event to be held on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November, and expressed his warm appreciation of the vigorous interest shown by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in attending this event.
Secretary del Rosario made reference to the many synergies visible in the situations in Sri Lanka and the Philippines at the present time. Among the similarities he noted were the almost identical rates of GDP growth in the two countries and the broadly comparable approaches to accelerating economic development. He reflected that both countries placed emphasis on the need for social equity and the proper distribution of the benefits of economic development among all sections of the population, especially in the rural sector, and the importance of structuring strategies for development in keeping with the cultural traditions and values of the country. Social safety nets, and opportunities for advancement through ready access to training facilities occupy a significant place in the development plans of the Philippines, he added. He thanked the government of Sri Lanka for its support, when the Philippines faced natural disasters of serious proportions on two occasions in the recent past.
The Foreign Ministers of Sri Lanka and the Philippines agreed to move rapidly with regard to the signing of a series of bilateral agreements which would form the basis of the intensified economic relationship between the two countries in the new situation, with the overcoming of recent challenges. Agreements in respect of regular political consultations, co-operation in the fields of agriculture and labour, and greater flexibility with regard to visa requirements were identified as the appropriate building blocks for consolidating the enhanced relationship. The construction sector and renewable energy were also identified as priority areas for collaboration.
Professor Peiris expressed to his counterpart Sri Lanka’s appreciation of the support consistently extended by the Philippines to his country at the international level. This has proved immensely Strengthening, he observed. Secretary Rosario noted that, two years ago, Sri Lanka and the Philippines celebrated half a century of diplomatic relations and expressed confidence that the relationship would be further strengthened in the future.