Papua New Guinea seeks RP’s support on bid for Asean membership

Published by rudy Date posted on March 31, 2009

MANILA, Philippines – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare yesterday asked President Arroyo to support his nation’s bid for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“Unlike the Philippines, a full member of ASEAN, Papua New Guinea maintains a special observer status in this paramount regional organization,” Somare, here on official visit, said.

“My government is seriously contemplating in seeking full membership in ASEAN; therefore, I seek your government’s positive consideration and support in this regard,” he said.

Somare pointed out that “Papua New Guinea is ready and able to fulfill the requirements of membership” in the regional grouping.

He also cited the need for a “well coordinated regional effort” to address the global financial meltdown “which undoubtedly is impacting our economies.”

The Philippines and Papua New Guinea forged yesterday a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on fisheries cooperation and joint protection efforts of marine resources between the two countries.

Mrs. Arroyo and Somare witnessed the signing of the MOU at the Shangri-La Resort in Boracay. Signing for the Philippines was Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and National Fisheries Authority Minister Ben Semri signed for Papua New Guinea.

Mrs. Arroyo hosted a state dinner for Somare at the beachfront of the hotel Sunday night. Somare arrived in the country on Saturday and is expected to leave today.

The document cited the need to “explore, develop, and implement joint undertakings in commerce, trade, investment, research and technical cooperation in the field of fisheries.”

Under the MOU, the two countries agreed to explore areas of cooperation including:

• Promotion of fishing ventures in the parties’ waters in accordance with domestic laws, regulations and treaty obligations;

• Promotion of aquaculture/mariculture investment, research and development and training;

• Post harvest, fish processing development and marketing;

• Combating illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices;

• Regular consultation on Coral Triangle Initiative issues; and

• Cooperation among competent authorities regarding European Union sanitary and phytosanitary standards and compliance.

In offering a toast in honor of the visiting leader, the President extolled Somare as a “valuable friend of the Philippines and a good brother of ours in the Pacific.”

Somare, who is accompanied by Lady Veronica Somare, is Papua New Guinea’s longest-serving prime minister and the Commonwealth’s longest-serving politician with 40 years of service.

The President also lauded Somare for his “unwavering support” to the Philippines’ “initiatives and aspirations” in the United Nations General Assembly.

The Philippines and Papua New Guinea established official diplomatic ties in 1976, but Mrs. Arroyo pointed out that friendly relations between the two countries go way back to the late 1800s when 14 Filipino lay missionaries accompanied European priests to the Pacific nation to teach catechism.

Somare said his four-day official visit affirms his government’s strong commitment to the strengthening of relations between his country and the Philippines.

“My decision to accept your kind invitation to visit the Republic of the Philippines is a clear testament of the high importance my government attaches to our bilateral relations,” Somare said.–Paolo Romero, Philippine Star

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