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Aquino to welcome solon with PH ties


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino III will receive on Monday US Sen. Richard Lugar who is on a tour of the Asia-Pacific region to drum up support for his nuclear threat reduction program.

Lugar, who was to arrive in Manila Saturday for a four-day visit, is scheduled to meet with Mr. Aquino in Malacañang on Monday, as well as with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and other government officials.

“The advisory relayed to us is that by Monday, he will be received by the President,” Undersecretary Abigail Valte, deputy presidential spokesperson, said over government radio.

The US Embassy said the Philippines was one of the stops on Lugar’s tour that is meant to “encourage the expansion” of the Nunn-Lugar Global Cooperative Threat Reduction program.

The program is focused on reducing the stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials and delivery systems in nations around the world to address the proliferation threat.

In the embassy statement, Lugar said that cooperation was crucial to identifying and interdicting the flow of weapons of mass destruction through Southeast Asia, which he said was a major intersection of global trade and commerce by water and air.

The most senior Republican in the US Senate, Lugar led efforts “at reducing the threat of nuclear weapons around the world and decreasing US dependence on foreign sources of oil,” the embassy said.

In time for Mr. Aquino’s visit to the United States last June, the US Senate passed Resolution No. 481 calling for increased defense and security cooperation with the Philippines. The measure was sponsored by Lugar in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the two countries.

Lugar, now 80, also played a key role in the Philippines’ tumultuous transition to democracy in 1986.

He had led the delegation of international observers that monitored and subsequently denounced the fraud-marred snap election between then dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino, the President’s mother, in February 1986.

Lugar, although a Republican, ended up publicly disagreeing with party mate and then US President Ronald Reagan, who had initially said that poll irregularities had occurred on both sides. With a report from Jerome Aning

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Tags: Albert Del Rosario , Benigno Aquino III , Nuclear Threat , US Sen. Richard Lugar

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