RP, SOUTH KOREA APPROVE JOINT  MILITARY TRAINING

MANILA
, January 26, 2006, (BULLETIN) The Philippine and the South Korean governments have agreed to exchange training programs for soldiers as part of the expanded defense and security cooperation between the two countries, Malacañang announced yesterday.

Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. made the formal announcement following the courtesy call made by visiting South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-Ung on President Arroyo at Malacañang yesterday morning.

"Basically, what was discussed during the call was the expansion of defense and military cooperation between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea," Cruz said, citing the strong bilateral ties between the two countries.

Cruz said the two sides discussed the "exchange of schooling" for officers of both countries and the exchange of skills and training on national disaster management programs, among others.

"We will compare notes on each country’s defense reform program so that we may come up with ideas on how to implement these programs. We are also looking into the possible exchange of schooling of officers," he added.

"The President said the strengthening relationship between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea was encouraging," Cruz said.

The Philippines is one of the most important development partners of South Korea, having received some million in loans and grants from Seoul.

Aside from Cruz, also present during the South Korean official’s call were Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) vice chief of staff, Vice Admiral Ariston de los Reyes, and senior military assistant Col. Carlos Holganza.

In a related development, Mrs. Arroyo also welcomed Datuk Othman Adb. Razak, who was recently appointed as adviser of Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, at Malacañang yesterday.

In a statement released after the meeting of the President and the Malaysian official, both the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front said they were fully committed to the peace process.

"Both sides are very optimistic that an agreement on the issue of ancestral domain can be achieved sooner than expected, and this may well lead to the final peace agreement," the statement said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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