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Duterte leaves for SoKor today

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
Duterte leaves for SoKor today
“We expect it to be a very productive trip. Hopefully, we could be a morale booster toward the talks that the whole world hopes go well,” Cayetano added, referring to the talks between the two Koreas.
King Rodriguez / Presidential Photo, File

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte will push for peace in the Korean peninsula as he visits South Korea this week.

“The President has always volunteered if he can help. In fact, he can help North Korea and South Korea find common ground and settle some of the disputes,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Friday night before leaving for Seoul ahead of Duterte, who is flying out today.

“We expect it to be a very productive trip. Hopefully, we could be a morale booster toward the talks that the whole world hopes go well,” Cayetano added, referring to the talks between the two Koreas.

He made the statement as US President Donald Trump announced that his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would push through in Singapore on June 12.

Trump made the announcement after a top North Korean envoy delivered to him a letter from Kim, the contents of which have yet to be released.

In a press briefing at Malacañang on Friday, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said Duterte is hoping that the planned summit between Trump and Kim will push through.

Abella also reiterated the Philippine position welcoming the results of the April summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, including the declaration of the two leaders to work towards ending the decades-long war.

Cayetano said Duterte’s South Korea visit would pave way for a stronger relationship between the two countries, especially on trade and economy.

“Korea is a very good friend to the Philippines. We have strong ties,” he said.

Good bilateral relations

In Seoul, Duterte’s first activity during his three-day official visit beginning today is to meet up with the Filipino community.

Undersecretary Abella said there are around 68,000 Filipinos in South Korea.

“The majority are workers entering the country under the Employment Permit System or EPS, while the rest are students, professionals, missionaries and spouses of Korean nationals,” he said.

Abella said Manila and Seoul have good bilateral relations and this is evident with the 1.6 million Korean tourists going to the Philippines and 450,000 Filipino tourists visiting Korea in 2017.

Aside from the meeting the Filipino community, Abella said the President will also participate in a summit meeting, business luncheon forum and a Philippine food festival.

The Department of Trade and Industry will handle the business lunch while the Department of Agriculture will hold the food festival.

Duterte is expected to arrive in Seoul at 5:20 a.m. at Incheon International Airport. He will be flying in via a commercial flight from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

At 4 p.m., he will be meeting with the Filipino community at the Convention Hall of the Grand Hilton and Convention Center.

Tomorrow, the President will have a wreath-laying activity at the national cemetery.

Afterwards, Duterte will proceed to the signing of the guestbook at Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House), equivalent to Malacañang in Manila.

Duterte will have a restricted meeting with President Moon in Cheong Wa Dae to be followed by their bilateral meet and signing of agreements.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the rehabilitation of Marawi, which was ravaged by clashes between government forces and terrorists last year, may be discussed during the meeting.

South Korea has donated $100,000 to the communities affected by the conflict through the Philippine Red Cross.  

The two heads of state are also expected to talk about agricultural cooperation, market access for Philippine exports and environmental cooperation. 

The two leaders will issue a joint statement before the South Korean president hosts a dinner for Duterte at the State Guest House.

Duterte will also attend a business forum hosted by  Korean business community.

Before he returns home on Wednesday, he will be the guest of honor at the E-Mart Philippine Food Festival at E-Mart Headquarters, also in Seoul.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will serve as caretaker of government while Duterte is abroad.

The trip comes months before the Philippines and South Korea celebrate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations. 

The Philippines and South Korea established diplomatic ties on March 3, 1949. It also sent troops to the Korean Peninsula in the 1950s to fight alongside South Koreans during the Korean War. – With Christina Mendez, Alexis Romero 

ALAN PETER CAYETANO

RODRIGO DUTERTE

SOUTH KOREAN

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