Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario held political consultations on May 31 with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius at the Quai d’Orsay (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs) in Paris.
The meeting is the first since 2001, when the last political consultations were held.
Del Rosario acknowledged Fabius as a special friend of the Philippines, recalling that in 1986, the Minister, who was then France’s Prime Minister, was among the first to acknowledge the government of former President Corazon Aquino during the People Power revolution.
Fabius expressed France’s desire to forge close partnerships with the Philippines in various areas of endeavors.
Discussions covered a range of bilateral issues. Secretary del Rosario shared with the French Minister, the recent positive developments in the Philippines, including the Philippines’ posting of the highest first quarter gross domestic product growth rate in Asia of 7.8 percent.
The Secretary also expressed his admiration for France’s leadership in Europe and in the international community and, with reference to France’s present economic difficulties, told Fabius that he was confident France would be able to surmount these challenges.
Encouraged by the positive developments in the country, del Rosario said that the Philippines is looking forward to engaging France, especially in the priority sectors of agriculture, infrastructure, and tourism.
He particularly sought France’s assistance in sharing its expertise to upgrade the Philippines’ tourism capabilities.
In other areas of cooperation, del Rosario thanked the French Minister for France’s proactive assistance in helping the Philippines address the European Union’s airline safety concerns.
The French Minister gave assurances that a positive decision from the EU was forthcoming. He also confirmed to del Rosario that the Philippines would no longer be included in the updated French fiscal blacklist, and referred to the recent news of the inclusion of the Philippines in the foreign aid fraud blacklist, as incorrect.
Both Ministers agreed that reviving the political consultation process would be an effective mechanism for charting future bilateral relations.
Opportunities in defense cooperation were also explored, including the updating of the 1994 Philippines-France Defense Cooperation Arrangement.
The DFA Secretary also mentioned to Minister Fabius that he has visited the Philippine Exhibition, “Philippines—Archipel des Echanges” at the Musee du Quai Branly, and expressed appreciation to France for the opportunity to showcase the cultural heritage of pre-colonial Philippines. He also reiterated the request for France’s support to the candidature of the Philippines in the World Heritage Committee.
Besides bilateral issues, the two ministers also exchanged views on regional and international issues, including the maritime disputes in the West Philippine Sea and the Philippine initiative of bringing its case before the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea Arbitral Tribunal.
Del Rosario also invited Fabius to the Philippines for the next round of political consultations, and also for the French Minister to be able to renew his acquaintance with the Philippines.
Del Rosario was accompanied by Philippine Ambassador to France, Cristina Ortega, and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Embassy in Paris.
French Ambassador to the Philippines, Gilles Garachon, and other Quai d’Orsay officials joined Fabius.