GMA  HAILS  MYANMAR  PM'S  ASEAN  VISIT

MALACA—ANG
, February 21, 2005
(OFFICE OF THE PRESS  SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo congratulated Myanmar Prime Minister Lt. Gen. Soe Win today for embarking on a program to visit his fellow leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and conduct constructive bilateral dialogues.

In an official lunch she tendered in honor of the visiting Myanmar leader, the President said the Prime Ministerís initiative reflects his "recognition that engagement in the regional and international communities carries with it profound responsibilities."

"You have our fervent prayers that Myanmar and ASEAN will be equal to these responsibilities and to the great challenges of the times for the benefit of our peoples, the region and the global community," the President said.

In her statement, the President noted that Myanmar is one of the four new members of the ASEAN. The three others are Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

The Chief Executive also recalled that former President Fidel V. Ramos, who was also present at the luncheon, visited Myanmar in 1997, the year when it joined ASEAN.

For his part, the visiting Myanmar Prime Minister expressed his deep appreciation to the Philippine government and Filipino people for the gracious hospitality extended to him and his delegation.

He said Myanmar and the Philippines may be separated by oceans but both countries are bound by similarities and traditions.

"Our relationship has blossomed since Myanmar joined the ASEAN family of nations in 1997," Lt. Gen. Soe Win said.

Others who attended the luncheon were Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr., Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee; several members of the House of Representatives, members of the Cabinet, ambassadors of the other members of ASEAN, and members of the Myanmar delegation.

ASEAN now groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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