PHILIPPINES EYES SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 3, 1999 - Post-Courier)---The Philippines wants to attain "dialogue partner status'' in the South Pacific Forum, and the Philippines government will seek the support of Papua New Guinea, the new Philippines Ambassador, Bienvenido Tejano, said yesterday.

Presenting his credentials to Governor-General Sir Silas Atopare yesterday, Mr. Tejano said the Philippines is an archipelagic country and has shared concerns over many environmental issues with member countries of the Forum.

His government "would like to seek the support of the PNG government for its initiative of attaining dialogue partnership status in the Forum.''

According to Mr. Tejano, this would be possible, considering the fact that PNG is an active member of the Forum.

Mr. Tejano added that, economically, PNG benefited from trade surpluses with the Philippines and the latter's investment here in the fisheries industry was high.

The Philippines, in turn, imports copper concentrate and forest products from PNG.

"Being essentially a manufacturing economy, the Philippines has a lot to offer PNG in terms of trade opportunities . . . It is in this regard that I hope to work in cooperation with the PNG government in identifying and maximizing those opportunities,'' he added.

Sir Silas confirmed that bilateral relations between the two countries had developed successfully over the years since diplomatic relations were formalized in 1975.

This showed in the commitment by both governments to implement important agreements, which include the technical cooperation agreement (1990), air services agreement (1978) and a memorandum of agreement on tourism cooperation signed recently.

He said the exchange of visits by leaders had been one of the avenues where cooperation had been significant between the two countries.

He added that PNG and the Philippines had worked closely and cooperated at regional and international meetings which dealt with issues of common interest, particularly with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, ASEAN and the United Nations.

PNG's link with ASEAN as special observer would not have been possible without the support of ASEAN members, including the Philippines.

"PNG places a lot of emphasis on relations with ASEAN countries that would potentially serve as a bridge linking the Pacific island countries with ASEAN,'' he said.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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