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MANILA, Philippines (July 16, 1997 - HPR)---The Republic of Palau and its close Pacific Rim neighbor, the Republic of the Philippines, have established formal diplomatic relations.

During Manila ceremonies marking the occasion, in which Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon and Palau Minister of State Andres Uherbelau participated, it was announced that the Philippines will open an embassy in Koror, Palau's capital, and also initiate direct air service between the two island countries.

Expanded Philippines-Palau tourism and business activities, particularly in the agricultural and fisheries areas, also are planned.

Approximately 5,000 Filipinos now live and work in Palau, making up close to a third of the Micronesian nation's population of about 17,000.

Palau became an independent nation, in free association with the United States, in 1994.

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