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Senior Israeli gov’t exec in Manila for political, economic, security talks

/ 03:38 PM February 20, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — A senior Israeli government official is in Manila for political, economic and security talks to follow through President Duterte’s historic visit to Israel last September.

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Gilad Cohen, deputy director general for Asia and the Pacific of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Duterte’s visit opened the floodgates for more cooperation in a wide range of common interests such as agriculture, security, science, tourism and labor agreements.

“It was very, very important for me to come to the Philippines,” Cohen told the Inquirer on Monday ahead of his dialogue with various Philippine officials in Malacanang.

“It was important for me to come after this visit of President Duterte, to hammer down the agreements that were approved in this visit in order to have a continuation,” he added.

It was the first high-level dialogue between the two countries since Duterte’s visit.

Cohen, who will be in the country from Feb. 17 to 20, said the two agreements signed during Duterte’s visit in Israel on improving the rights of caregivers and the hiring of up to 1,000 hotel workers are “in the final ratification process.”

He said Duterte’s visit, the first by a Philippine leader, made the agreements possible.

“The Philippines is the pioneer for signing this important agreement,” Cohen said.

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Among the officials he was scheduled to meet on Tuesday was National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon on Tuesday.

Without going into details on the kind of security cooperation to be discussed, Cohen said: “I will just tell you that we will be standing by the Philippine government, by President Duterte in his fight against terrorism,” saying Israel could relate to the fight against terrorism.

“You have your challenges on security, on terrorism. And Israel stands by the Philippines side by side in this cooperation against terrorism. We suffer from terrorism as well. So I think two sides are cooperating as well,” he said.

In Israel, Mr Duterte said he wanted the Jewish state to be the “exclusive” weapons supplier of the Philippines since it did not impose any conditions unlike other countries. /je

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TAGS: deputy director general for Asia and the Pacific of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Duterte, gilad cohen, Israel, Israeli, Philippines, Talks
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