Duterte seeks closer ties with South Korea in 3-day visit

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2018 07:42 AM

SEOUL -- President Rodrigo Duterte arrived here Sunday for his first official visit to South Korea, seeking to bring ties with the East Asian nation to a "whole new level."

The President is scheduled to address the Filipino Community in the South Korean capital late Sunday. He will meet with the nation's leader, President Moon Jae-in, on Monday.

"In my talks with President Moon, I will explore ways to bring cooperation to a whole new level. This will be based on respect for sovereign equality and for the democratic ideals that we both fought hard to secure," Duterte said at Manila airport late Saturday before he boarded a commercial Philippine Airlines flight.

"I will emphasize the importance of strengthening our partnership in defense and security, trade and investments, and political cooperation. I will likewise stress the need to work together to help achieve greater security by addressing conventional and emerging threats to stability in our [region]," he said.

The Philippines and South Korea are expected to sign 4 agreements during the visit covering transportation, trade and industry, science and a loan agreement for the Cebu International Container port project.

There are 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.

South Korea was the Philippines tenth largest market for exports last April, with shipments valued at $157.11 million, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Many of South Korea's largest companies are present in the Philippines, including electronics giants Samsung and LG, ship-maker Hanjin and automaker Hyundai.

Pop music and TV soaps from South Korea are also popular in the Philippines, underscoring ties that go as far back as the Korean War.

The President will meet with South Korean businessmen and attend a Filipino food fair in Seoul on Tuesday before flying back to the Philippines later that day.

Cabinet officials who are traveling with the President include Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and Special Assistant to the President Bong Go.