• PH backs Timor-Leste bid to join Asean

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    The Philippines supports Timor-Leste’s bid to become the 11th member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), President Benigno Aquino 3rd said
    on Thursday.

    Timor Leste Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao paid a courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacañang, where the two leaders had an expanded bilateral meeting.

    Timor-Leste, a former Portuguese colony, is seeking membership in the Asean, after winning its freedom in a 1999 United Nations-backed referendum. The Philippines is a founding member of Asean.

    “The Philippines was at a crucial juncture in its democratic history while Timor Leste was treading the path to self-governance and independence,” the President said. “We look forward to working more closely with you in the future in advancing regional dialogue, which we know will redound not only to the growth of our peoples and our countries, but will also contribute to the stability and continued development of our region.”

    Aquino said both countries will continue their military cooperation and intelligence exchange.

    “This is in keeping with the Joint Declaration on Military Cooperation, which was signed by both our governments last year,” he added

    Trade between the two countries from 2011 to 2012 “almost tripled.”

    “This is a positive sign of our robust partnership. And with the signing of the agreements on infrastructure development and capacity building, among others, we open more doors of opportunity for both our peoples, empowering them to take part in further building a more equitable, more progressive Southeast Asia,” Aquino said

    “The peoples of our region not only share a rich history; more importantly, we are bound by common aspirations. It is by working together that we realize the potential of our nations and of our region. Our meeting today signifies that our peoples are determined and ready to achieve these dreams.”

    Gusmao said his visit to the Philippines is part of his country’s program to visit all Asean countries this year “to strengthen both bilateral and regional ties with our neighbors.”

    “Timor-Leste is seeking membership to Asean as we believe we can contribute to this dynamic and growing region to which we all belong,” he said.

    “I am therefore thankful to His Excellency and his government of their support for our bid for Asean membership. We look forward to joining with the Philippines in the Asean family,” he added

    Gusmao, who is visiting the Philippines for the first time, arrived in Manila Thursday evening. During his 4-day stay, he will deliver a lecture at the University of the Philippines College of Law. He will also visit industrial areas in Subic Bay in Olongapo City and Clark Field in Pampanga and meet with potential investors.
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    Aquino thanked Gusmao for the donation and described Timor-Leste a “reliable partner in times of disaster.”

    “The kindness that Timor-Leste has shown will always be remembered by the Filipino people,” he added

    Typhoon Pablo killed at least 1,067 people, injured 2,666 and left 834 missing.

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