Aquino arrives in New Zealand for state visit

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 22 2012 09:29 AM | Updated as of Oct 22 2012 10:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino and his delegation arrived Monday morning (Manila time) at Auckland, New Zealand for a state visit.

Aquino was welcomed by Minister of Customs Maurice Williamson and New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines Reuben Levermore.

Aquino will be in New Zealand from October 22 to 24, and in Australia from October 24 to 26.

Aquino's visit is meant "to strengthen bilateral relations with the two nations."

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte earlier said Aquino will meet with the Filipino community and businessmen in both countries.

The President will meet with Prime Minister Key and Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae to discuss "regional and international developments of mutual concern", including updates about the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In Australia, Aquino is meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

Valte said the framework agreement will also be discussed, along with matters on "cooperation in the political, economic, defense, and development fields."

In Campbelltown, Sydney, President Aquino will be unveiling a statue of Dr. Jose Rizal and meet with the members of the Filipino community.

President Aquino was accompanied by 96 delegates, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, NEDA chief Arsenio Balisacan, Defense Secretary Voltaire T. Gazmin, and Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang.

The government is allocating around P44 million for the state visits. The estimated expenses cover charter lease, accommodation, transportation, food and equipment, among others, of the entire presidential delegation. – with a report from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News