To Further Deepen the Friendly Relationship and Cooperative Ties: Presidents Roh and Arroyo Agreed To Boost Energy and IT Ties
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo agreed to strengthen substantial cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of energy, natural resources and information- technology (IT). "In the past, roads, ports and electricity were key to national development. But IT and telecom infrastructure construction will further grow in importance in the future," said Roh at the summit. He also vowed to dramatically increase economic assistance to the Philippines from next year, particularly in the IT field. Roh also called on the Philippine government to establish an exclusive support desk for South Korean small and medium sized firms to set up businesses in the Philippines. During their Summit Meeting on Dec. 15, 2005, at the presidential palace, Malacanang, Presidents Roh and Arroyo discussed ways to further deepen the friendly relationship and cooperative ties that are forward-looking, reciprocal and substantive, according to presidential spokesman, Kim Man-soo. They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the Southeast Asian country's development of infrastructure and natural resources. "South Korea and the Philippines will, for example, jointly develop their mineral resources and strengthen cooperation in the construction of infrastructure such as railways in the Southeast Asian nation," Kim said. Roh and Arroyo observed their foreign ministers' signing ceremony of the memorandums of understanding (MOU) on bilateral social security pact and road construction and river dredging projects. The two MOUs on energy cooperation as well as on mineral resources cooperation will enable the two countries to accelerate joint development of mineral resources and other types of collaboration in the industrial sectors named. They also agreed to expand Korean companies' participation in the social overhead construction projects in the Philippines. The two leaders, noting how increased manpower exchanges in tourism, culture, education and industrial training that has contributed to improving bilateral relations, vowed to make greater efforts to protect each other's nationals. In particular, they agreed to exert utmost efforts to ensure the safety of South Koreans visiting the Philippines and Filipinos in South Korea and signed a MOU concerning tourism cooperation. "In recent years, more and more Koreans are visiting the Philippines and more and more Filipinos are taking an interest in Korea," said Roh. "We need to lay a stable foundation for the exchanges to further promote people-to-people interactions." The two leaders also talked about the current situation on the Korean Peninsula, such as the North Korean nuclear impasse. They agreed to closely cooperate to bring an end to the international standoff and bring peace to the peninsula. They also discussed ways to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, pledging by the Philippine leader's full support for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks on North Korean nuclear weapons program. The two leaders urged the six nations participating in the Beijing talks on the North Korean nuclear issue to give their best efforts to carrying out the provisions contained in their Joint Statement of September 19. According to a statement from the Filipino presidential palace, South Korea will help finance a US$50.42 million upgrade of the Philippines' railway system through a soft loan and export credits. A US$35 million loan from Seoul's Economic Development Cooperation Fund and Korean Export- Import Bank export credits would finance the first phase of the project. On December 16, Roh attended with Arroyo the opening ceremony of a Korean-Filipino IT Training Center, built with a US$5 million grant by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). After the one-hour summit, Roh had a luncheon with business leaders from the two nations and then attended the launching ceremony of the construction of the Manila-South Luzon railway, which is supported by South Korea. During his stay in Manila, President Roh met with about 300 South Korean residents in the Philippine city and listened to their difficulties and policy recommendations. Roh addressed the Korea-Philippines Economic Council of Korean and Filipino business leaders. On December 15, Roh also met Philippine veterans of the 1950-53 Korean War and attended a state dinner hosted by Arroyo along with first lady Kwon Yang-suk at the presidential palace, Malacanang.