• Duterte to visit Myanmar, Thailand

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    The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday announced that President Rodrigo Duterte will go to Myanmar and Thailand for official visits next week.

    Duterte and his entourage will leave for Nay Pyi Daw in Myanmar on Sunday.

    They will stay there overnight then proceed to Bangkok on Monday until Wednesday.

    In Myanmar, formerly Burma, Duterte will meet with President U Htin Kyaw and Nobel Peace Prize awardee Aung San Suu Kyi.

    In Bangkok, the President will meet with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha where they are expected to discuss issues of mutual concerns, including political, economic, agriculture, energy, education and defense cooperation.

    Duterte is also expected to share with Thai officials information on various developments in the country, as well as priorities and programs of the Philippines for its Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) chairmanship this year.

    The Asean Summit is slated last week of April in the Philippines.

    The President is scheduled to meet members of the Filipino community in Tyhailand, where more than 16,000 Filipinos are living and working.

    Bilateral relations between the Philippines and Thailand will reach 68 years in June 2017.

    The relations have always been considered to be strong and vibrant, with exchanges at the highest levels taking place regularly since the establishment of relations in 1949.

    Duterte’s visits are part of the President’s introductory visits to countries in Southeast Asia, according to DFA spokesman and Assistant Secretary Charles Jose.

    Jose said Myanmar and Thailand are the only two remaining countries in the region that the President has not yet visited.

    Duterte is slated to hold bilateral talks with President U Htin Kyaw, who will also host a state banquet in honor of the Philippine leader.

    He is also scheduled to meet other high-level government officials, including State Counselor and Foreign Minister Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing.

    Duterte will also meet with members of the Filipino community in Nay Pyi Taw.

    Myanmar is home to approximately 1,800 Filipinos.

    Data from the Philippine Embassy there show that many of them are employed in foreign firms and international organizations.

    Philippine-Myanmar diplomatic relations are over 60 years old with ties formally established in 1956.

    The Philippine Embassy in Rangoon, now Yangon, was opened in 1958.

    Myanmar is also a member of the Asean, joining the group in 1997 when the organization celebrated its 30th anniversary.

    Duterte previously traveled to Bangkok, in November last year, to pay his respects to the late Thai monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

    Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Thailand were formally established in June 1949.

    The relations have since then steadily expanded and deepened. JAIME R. PILAPIL

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