Indonesian president to visit PHL

21 May 2014

Manila and Jakarta have resolved a maritime dispute in the Philippines’ southern waters that overlap with Indonesia’s territorial boundary before he steps down from office, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be in the country for a two-day state visit aimed at strengthening political, defense, security and trade cooperation with the Philippines.

Yudhoyono’s visit came at a time when Manila and Jakarta have resolved a maritime dispute in the Philippines’ southern waters that overlap with Indonesia’s territorial boundary.

Upon the invitation of President Benigno Aquino III, Yudhoyono will be in the country from May 22 to 23 for his first ever state visit since he became Indonesia’s President for two consecutive terms in 2004 and 2009.

The Indonesian leader’s visit also coincides with his attendance to the World Economic Forum on East Asia (WEF-EA) that will be hosted by Manila on May 22.

In that forum, Yudhoyono will be conferred with the Global Statesmanship Award, and witness the official turn over to Indonesia of the hosting of the 24th WEF-EA in 2015.

At their bilateral meeting on May 23, Aquino and Yudhoyono will discuss matters of mutual concern, including political, defense and border, maritime, economic and socio-cultural cooperation, said Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose on Tuesday.

Yudhoyono will also be conferred with the Order of Sikatuna with rank of Raja — the highest award conferred on individuals and heads of state — during the state dinner to be hosted in his honor.

Indonesia is among the Philippines’ major trading partners, ranking 13th in 2013, with a total trade of $ 3.512 billion. It also hosts nearly 10,000 Filipino workers and residents.

After 20 years of negotiations, the Philippines and Indonesia are set to sign an agreement on the delimitation of their overlapping boundaries in the Mindanao Sea and Celebes Sea.

“It will be signed the soonest possible time,” Jose told reporters at a press briefing.

The conclusion of the talks that began in 1994, is a testament to the two countries’ “friendship, patience, goodwill and commitment... to peacefully address maritime issues,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

The Philippines is also embroiled in long-running conflicts in another disputed body of water – the South China Sea – where it is locked in decades of territorial conflicts that involve China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

China’s “indisputable” claim over nearly the entire waters has made it impossible for its smaller Asian neighbors with less military force to reach a settlement to the row that has sparked several military confrontations in the past.

Of all the claimants, the Philippines and Vietnam have the most number of confrontations with China.

Asked if the Philippines is open to bilateral talks with China and undertake negotiations similar to what it did with Indonesia, Jose said: “In the case of China, there’s no overlapping EEZ so there’s nothing to demarcate.”

“It’s very clear in the provisions of United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea where our EEZ starts and ends and where China’s EEZ starts and ends,” he added. —KBK, GMA News


No comments:

Post a Comment