Aquino shakes off colds, flies to South Korea for summit
MANILA, Philippines — President Benigno Aquino III left the country for South Korea on Thursday morning to attend the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea anniversary commemorative summit.
Appearing well a day he was reported to be having a cold and nasal congestion, Aquino on Thursday set out on his trip to South Korea where he will meet Asean leaders and South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
“This is a good opportunity for the government to nurture and grow the Philippines-South Korea relations,” Aquino told the members of his Cabinet in a speech during the send-off ceremony at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
Aquino with his entourage boarded a PAL chartered flight to Busan, South Korea at 9 a.m. on Friday. With him in the South Korea trip are Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma and Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras.
The two-day trip will be Aquino’s last foreign trip this year, which was earlier announced to have been canceled due to Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit).
But on Tuesday, the President despite feeling unwell due to cold, changed his mind and decided to push through with the trip.
Aquino said that even earlier, the Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Lee Hyuk was advised that the trip would depend on the extent of the damage wrought by the recent typhoon.
“Based on the recent reports we received, it turned out that the devastation caused by the typhoon was not as wide and grave as expected… This gave us the confidence to pay our attention to the Philippines’ foreign relations,” Aquino said in Filipino.
He noted that while out of the country, he would continue to monitor developments of the recovery efforts in the areas stricken by the typhoon.
Aquino stressed how important South Korea has been in the Philippine’s economy, tourism and national security.
“For example: Over 1 million tourists visited the Philippine last year; the company Hanjin from their country helped the country become the largest shipbuilding nation in the world, according to data released in the first quarter of 2014. After the Super Typhoon Yolanda hit us, South Korea was there to lend us help,” the President said.
On the sidelines of the summit, Aquino will have the chance to meet his counterpart President Park to discuss the areas of cooperation between the two countries.
He and the other Asean leaders at the summit would tackle climate change and disaster-risk management strategies in the region.
“If our best practices on disaster readiness and preparedness will be asked, we shall not hesitate to share our experiences and knowledge on the matter,” he said.
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