The Philippines is willing to extend support to Colombia in its peace talks with a rebel group, according to President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Aquino met with Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos in a courtesy call in Malacanang on Tuesday.
In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Jr. reported that during the bilateral talks, Aquino lauded the Colombian government’s peace efforts that set the stage to end Latin America’s longest-running armed conflict.
“President Aquino congratulated President Santos on significant developments in Colombia’s peace process and negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and expressed good wishes on scheduled signing of final agreement in 2016,” Coloma told reporters.
“He [President Aquino] offered Philippines’ assistance and advice in [Colombia’s] peace process, if needed,” he said.
Santos arrived in Manila on Monday afternoon to take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting from November 18 to 19.
His visit marks the first time that a Colombian leader landed in the country since diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Colombia were` forged in 1946.
Colombia has been invited as a guest country at the high-level economic forum and will attend the Pacific Alliance dialogue together with the Latin American APEC members Chile, Peru and Mexico.
Held in the presence of their APEC leaders, the dialogue among the four Pacific Alliance presidents will serve as a venue to identify possible areas of future collaboration and examine the integration process on both mechanisms.
The Pacific Alliance is a regional group in Latin America composed of four countries—Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Chile.
“President Aquino thanked President Santos for accepting the invitation to participate in APEC-Pacific Alliance informal conversation. He noted that efforts and initiatives of Colombia to become a part of APEC will hopefully find full fruition in the near future,” Coloma said.
During the bilateral talks, he added, Aquino and Santos also discussed “their countries’ common concerns in combating illegal drug trade and drug abuse.”
“Like Colombia, the Philippines is taking steps to improve people’s quality of life by bringing social opportunities closer to them, thus channeling their energies to legitimate sources of income,” Coloma said, quoting President Aquino.
Colombia is not a member of the APEC but has applied for membership since 1995.
The 21 APEC member-economies are the United States, Japan, China, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Singapore, Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.