UK official in Manila to boost bilateral ties with PH

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MANILA, Philippines – A minister from the United Kingdom (UK) is in Manila for a two-day visit described by the country as part of its efforts to “boost its fast growing bilateral links with the Philippines.”

In a statement, the UK’s embassy in Manila noted that Minister of State Hugo Swire arrived in Manila on this Monday. It said that Swire’s first official trip to the Philippines was part of a Southeast Asian tour that included Brunei and Burma.

In a separate statement, Swire said that his country shared many values with the Philippines and was keen to work with the country to boost prosperity.

“This visit reinforces the growing importance we attach to the Philippines as a key emerging power,” Swire said.

Swire, in his statement, also lauded President Benigno Aquino III’s anti-corruption agenda and strong economic policies, saying that these paved the way towards the Philippines’ “development and ever stronger bilateral trade and investment.”

Swire also reiterated his country’s strong support for the recently signed preliminary framework agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

For his part, British Ambassador to the Philippines Stephen Lillie noted that among the highlights of Swire’s visit would be a call on Aquino and the signing of a Joint Plan of Action and Air Services Agreement with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Lillie noted that Swire’s visit rounded off a great year in the two countries’ relations, as he noted that Aquino visited London in June.

“We are looking forward to building on that in the coming year, using the Joint Plan of Action to lift relations to a new level across a whole range of issues, from business links to political cooperation and further work on peace building in Mindanao,” Lillie said.

Lillie added that Swire’s visit would include meetings with Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima.

He would also be speaking about bilateral trade and investment opportunities at a joint luncheon with the Makati Business Club, the Management Association of the Philippines, the Philippine-British Business Council and the British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Lillie said.

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