• French president to visit PH

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    French President Francois Hollande will be in Manila early next year to discuss climate change initiatives with Philippine officials, the French Embassy said in a statement on Friday.

    He would not only be the first French head of state, but also the first European head of state, to make an official visit to the Philippines.

    Hollande’s visit comes after President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s historic official visit to France as part of his European tour in September this year.

    Aquino’s visit to France from September 17 to 18, 2014 was the first visit of a Philippine head of state since 1994.

    Although he and Hollande discussed issues of mutual interest and witnessed the signing of three agreements on trade, education and culture, the focus of their dialogue was the environment and climate change.

    In the statement from the French Embassy, Hollande noted consequences of global warming, citing the experience of the Philippines with Super Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013.

    Also in it, he also cited a need for both countries to collaborate in addressing the aftermath of natural disasters such as Yolanda, which left thousands dead, missing and displaced.

    Hollande said he and President Aquino agreed that “in the context of the preparation of the Climate Conference (21st Conference of Parties or COP), France and the Philippines should work together, and on the occasion of my visit to your country, a visit that we could organize next year, we could illustrate what this conference on climate should be.”

    “The exchanges between our two countries have been at its highest point since 2012, and we’d like to continue this for the coming years. We are truly looking forward to this visit so that President Hollande could see first hand the economic, political and cultural opportunities here in the Philippines,” French Ambassador to Manila Gilles Garachon said.
    As the host of COP 21 in December 2015, France has placed climate change among its foreign-policy priorities.

    “With the upcoming visit of President Hollande, we hope to be able to open new areas for cooperation, as well as to strengthen our existing partnership in various sectors, and among them is the environment,” Garachon said.

    The French Embassy in the Philippines expressed commitment to work together with the Philippines to address climate change through a series of projects to be carried out until December 2015.

    The first in the series is a roundtable organized by the Asia Center in partnership with the French Regional Delegation for Cooperation with Asean and supported by the European Union delegation to the Philippines and the embassies of the United Kingdom and Germany.

    Taking place in Manila on November 17 with the theme “Asean, Europe and the Philippines: Facing up to the Challenges of Climate Change,” the roundtable will gather Asean officials, European representatives, political experts, scientists and diplomats to exchange European and Asian perspectives and positions on the issue of climate change.

    Complementing the roundtable is a screening of various films on the subject of climate change, to be followed by an open discussion on November 18 at the Alliance Française de Manille.

    Among the short films to be screened are “Témoin du climat” by the Good Planet Foundation and Sally Jo Bellosillo’s “Haiyan: The Aftermath.”

    Haiyan is the international codename of Yolanda.

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