• PH, Indonesia tackle defense cooperation

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd will discuss defense and maritime cooperation with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who is here for the World Economic Forum on East Asia.

    In a press briefing on Wednesday, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Aquino will confer the Indonesian leader with the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Raja during the State Dinner Malacanang will host in his honor.

    “On May 23, President Yudhoyono will meet with President Aquino to discuss matters of mutual concern, including political, defense and border, maritime, economic, and socio-cultural cooperation,” Lacierda said.

    Yudhoyono will also be conferred with the Global Statesmanship Award, and witness the official turn over to Indonesia of the hosting of the 24th WEF-EA in 2015.

    “Indonesia was the 13th major trading partner of the Philippines in 2013, with a total trade of US $ 3.512 billion. There is a 9,844-strong Filipino community living and working in Indonesia. This year also marks the 65th Anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Indonesia,” Lacierda further said.

    “This will be President Yudhoyono’s first bilateral visit to the Philippines since he became Indonesia’s President for two consecutive terms in 2004 and 2009. President Aquino undertook his State Visit to Indonesia on March 7 to 9, 2011,” he added.

    In February, a high ranking Indonesia defense official expressed confidence that it is just a matter of time before the territorial rows in the Spratlys are settled peacefully and the region is declared a “peace zone.”

    In exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Air Chief Marshall Djoko Suyanto, who is also Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Legal, Political and Security Affairs disclosed that the articles of the proposed code are being finalized after 10 years of trying to convince claimants to come up with a Code of Conduct.

    “It took us 10 years to convince our partners to agree to a code of conduct. Finally, after explaining to our counterparts that the zone should be a peace zone and that every country has equal right for joint use for prosperity, the declaration of conduct will be transformed into a more legally binding contract,” Suyanto said.

    Joel M. SY EGCO

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