• Aquino visit to France bolsters Manila-Paris ties

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    Philippine-French bilateral relations are expected to strengthen when President Benigno Aquino 3rd visits France on September 17, his first to that country since assuming his post in 2010 and the first for a Philippine head of state since 1994.

    While in Paris, President Aquino will witness the signing of several agreements together with President Francois Hollande on culture, education, transportation and communication the French Embassy in Manila said on Friday.

    In a statement, the embassy added that the President will be arriving in Paris on September 17 from Brussels, and will leave for Berlin on September 19.

    “Today, we are witnessing an exciting phase in bilateral relations between France and the Philippines,” French Ambassador Gilles Garachon said.

    “We are riding a momentum of increased cooperation between our two countries, which started when then Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited the Philippines in 2012,” he added.

    Aquino will be accompanied by a delegation composed of 10 Cabinet secretaries, together with representatives from the Philippine private sector.

    Upon his arrival in Paris, he will be welcomed with military honors at the Arc de Triomphe and will proceed to the Elysée Palace for a bilateral meeting with Hollande.

    “Both heads of state will witness the signing of agreements in the areas of culture, education, transportation and communications, among others,” the statement said.

    It added that a joint communiqué would be given to the press, to be immediately followed by a lunch hosted by the French president.

    Aquino will then proceed to the Hotel Matignon in the afternoon for bilateral talks with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

    On September 18 at the Intercontinental Hotel he will formally open the Philippines-France Business Council organized by the Mouvement des Entreprises de France (MEDEF) International and the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry.

    MEDEF International “is a non-profit private-funded organization that represents over 4,000 French companies operating all over the world.”

    A delegation from MEDEF International was in Manila in April for a business forum organized by the French Embassy and the Philippine Embassy in France.

    The President will then proceed to the Institute Français des Relations Internationales, a Paris-based think tank, to deliver a policy speech.

    Garachon said Aquino’s trip to France, as well as to other European countries and the European Union, shows the “existing partnership and friendship” between the two governments.

    “This visit is expected to reap economic, political and cultural gains for both our countries, which we hope would lead to greater opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Perhaps next year, we could see a visit by President Hollande to the Philippines,” he added.

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