MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino will embark on a state visit to Malaysia at the end of this month upon the invitation of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Najib was here in October 2012 for the signing of the Bangsamoro Framework Agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
According to a Palace source, Aquino’s state visit to Malaysia is preferred by both sides before Najib is again invited to Manila possibly for the signing of the comprehensive agreement with the MILF in March.
Malaysia serves as facilitator of the peace negotiations.
The government has said the standoff in Lahad Datu, Sabah last year did not affect relations between the two countries as well as Kuala Lumpur’s commitment to help in the peace talks.
A group that called itself the Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo was sent by the late Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III to Lahad Datu to assert the unresolved territorial claim of the Philippines on Eastern Sabah (formerly North Borneo).
Kiram and his followers claimed they were being excluded from the government’s peace and development plan in Mindanao.
This will be Aquino’s first foreign trip this year as he skipped the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last January. The Philippines will host this year’s WEF on East Asia.