Manila, June 2, 2003 -- President Arroyo embarks on a three-day state visit 
to South Korea today to further strengthen ties between Seoul and Manila. 
The Philippines' concern over North Korea's nuclear weapons production will 
also be discussed.

The June 2-4 Korean trip will be followed by a working visit to Japan from 
June 4 to June 6.

Arroyo will leave Manila at 11:30 a.m. today "via a special aircraft." Her 
official delegation will take PAL flight PR 468.

At least three bilateral agreements covering legal coordination, energy and 
finance are expected to be signed during the South Korean visit.

Arroyo is expected to discuss with South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun how 
to bring about a peaceful resolution to the North Korean issue.

Defense, security and economic cooperation as well as the welfare of 
Filipinos in South Korea, including 18,253 undocumented workers, will also 
be on the agenda.

Presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye said Arroyo wants a "bigger core 
group" within the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to push 
for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region.

"We would like to have a union of like-minded countries and perhaps (by) 
working together we could exert moral pressure on the North Korean regime," 
Bunye said

He added that the North Korean nuclear weapons issue is a subject "close to 
home" because the Philippines is within the range of that country's missiles.

Tonight Arroyo will meet with the Filipino community of 33,700 in Seoul. 
Tomorrow, she will lead a wreath laying ceremony at the National Cemetery.

The official welcome ceremony takes place at the Blue House where the South 
Korean president lives. This will be followed by Arroyo's bilateral talks 
with President Roh and the signing of bilateral agreements.

At lunch, she will meet with the leaders of Korean National Assembly and of 
business groups, including officials of the Korea Electric Power Corp. and 
Daewoo International. She will later witness the signing of several 
government and private agreements.

The 40-person presidential delegation will be honored at the state dinner 
at the Cheong Wa Dee portion of the Blue House.

Wednesday morning, Arroyo will again lay a wreath, this time at the Korean 
War Memorial Monument to the Philippine Armed Forces, which honors 
Filipinos who fought in the Korean War.

That will be followed by the 19th Joint Meeting of the Korea-Philippines 
Economic Council.

Ranking officials of Asiana Airlines will meet with Arroyo before she 
proceeds to a luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Goh Kun, after which a 
press conference will be held.

Arroyo will depart for Tokyo in a private jet, a Gulfstream G200, at 3:15 
p.m. (Manila time) and is expected to arrive at the Haneda airport at 5:30 p.m.

During the three-day Japan visit, Arroyo will meet with Japanese chief 
executive officers and deliver a speech before the Nikkei 9th International 
Conference on the Future of Asia. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir 
Mohammad and Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra are also guest speakers.

Arroyo will also attend the Asian Leaders' roundtable for the Asean-Japan 
Exchange Year 2003 and later meet with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro 

She will also receive calls from Osamu Watanabe, chairman and CEO of the 
Japan External Trade Organization, Rolf Eckrodt, president and CEO of 
Mitsubishi Motors Corp., officials of Honda Motors, and other major 
Japanese trading companies before returning to Manila on Friday night.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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