OCTOBER 23, 2006 (OFFICE OF THE PRESS SECRETARY) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves for China on Friday (Oct. 27) to attend the commemorative summit celebrating the 15th anniversary of the historic partnership between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, according to Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye.

In his column "View from the Palace" which comes out tomorrow (Monday), Bunye said that this "important milestone" will bring to the fore the economic, political and cultural collaboration between ASEAN and China.

"President Arroyo leaves for a five-day trip to China this Friday that will take her to Xiamen, Jin Jiang, Nanchang, Guilin and finally Nanning, venue of the commemorative summit celebrating the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China partnership," Bunye said.

"All of the ASEAN leaders are traveling to China to celebrate a very important milestone. The President will not only be representing the Philippines but will also be speaking as Chair of ASEAN, which undoubtedly has helped China become an economic powerhouse as a result of the economic, political and cultural collaboration between ASEAN and China," he said.

Last Oct. 18, during an interview in Malacanang with the Chinese mass Media, President Arroyo said the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement will help in deepening ties between ASEAN and China and will "help all of our economies grow and strengthen peace and security in the region."

According to the President, she is honored to attend the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-China collaboration and welcomed the opportunity to "communicate with the people of China in order to help forge stronger ties between China and the Philippines."

Bunye said that aside from attending the anniversary, the President’s trip will also take her to Xiamen, Jin Jiang, Nanchang, and Guilin to meet with prominent Chinese businessmen and the Filipino community.

She will also be having bilateral talks with Chinese government officials and other ASEAN heads of state.

"During her trip, the President will be meeting with prominent Chinese business leaders in Xiamen, the Filipino community in Fujian Province, and university students in Nanchang. In Nanning, she is expected to have bilateral talks with Premiere Wen Jiabao as well as talks, both formal and pull-aside, with other ASEAN heads of state. She will also grace the opening of the 3rd China-ASEAN Expo," Bunye said.

President to hold bilateral meeting with visiting Thai Prime Minister in Malacañang tomorrow

Thai Prime Minister Gen. Surayud Chulanont is arriving in Manila Monday afternoon for a brief official visit to the Philippines as part of his familiarization tour of Thailand’s fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Upon arrival at 4:00 p.m. on board a special aircraft A319 at the 250th Presidential Airlift Wing in Villamor Air Base, Pasay City, the new Thai prime minister will proceed to Malacañang where he will be welcomed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Palace grounds.

Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye said that after the arrival honors, President Arroyo and Gen. Surayud will hold a "One-on-One" meeting at Malacañang’s Music Room.

The two leaders’ bilateral talk will then be followed by an expanded bilateral meeting at the Music Conference Room, this time to be attended also by senior officials of the Philippine government and the official Thai delegation.

Secretary Bunye earlier said in an interview by government radio station DZRB (Radyo ng Bayan) on Saturday that during the two leaders’ meeting, President Arroyo is expected to convey to the Thai prime minister the desire of many countries for the expeditious restoration of political normalcy in Bangkok.

Topics aimed at further strengthening the already warm and strong bilateral relations between the Philippines and Thailand are also expected to dominate the meeting. The two countries are both members of the ASEAN along with Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

After the bilateral meeting, Gen. Surayud will leave for the Manila Hotel for a brief rest. He and his delegation will return to Malacañang at 7:00 p.m. for the traditional Official Dinner hosted by President Arroyo at the Palace State Dining Room.

From Manila, Surayud, who became prime minister last Oct. 1, returns to Bangkok at 8:50 p.m. Monday after visiting Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, and Malaysia earlier.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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