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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, April 13) – Palau and Davao City, Philippines, want to expand their partnership specifically in trade, education and health.

Presidential Chief of Staff Billy Kuartei was on the recent inaugural Palau to Davao flight of Asian Spirit.

At the reception in Davao City hosted by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, he said the partnership with Palau could be "endless," citing shipping, medical and educational opportunities.

Duterte said despite the disparity in the populations of Davao and Palau, the two areas have a lot of things in common.

Duterte said Palau emerged from the shadow of a bigger nation when it gained its independence while Davao has proven itself as a successful city on the southern island of Mindanao.

Duterte said Davao has well-trained medical professionals and good universities where Palauan students could study.

The delegation from Palau was composed of 61 members from the private sector, the government and the media.

Kuartei said President Tommy Remengesau extends his appreciation to Davao and its officials.

He said Asian Spirit’s venture will cut travel time for those who wanted to go to Davao because they do not have to pass through Manila.

Kuartei said the flight will open more trade opportunities between the two countries.

He said Palau as a young republic needs friends, adding that Philippines was the first to establish diplomatic relationship with this Pacific island nation.

Asian Spirit’s flights to Palau will open more links between the two areas, Kuartei said.

That night, the Palau and Davao chambers of commerce signed a trade agreement.

Signing the agreement were Palau chamber vice president Philip Reklai and Bienvenido Cariaga president of the Davao chamber.

The Palau delegation also met with the officials of the Mindanao Economic Development Council, an agency of the Philippine government that handles Mindanao affairs.

The delegation from Palau were updated regarding Mindanao and Davao City investment opportunities.

Asian Spirit has three Davao-Palau flights a week and airfare is US$260.

Asian Spirit is the first Filipino carrier to service the Palau-Davao-Manila route.

The airline uses a 100-seat BAe 146 jet made by British Aerospace System.

April 14, 2006

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