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Visit by Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA56 23 April 2004

Visit by Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs

Today I was pleased to welcome the Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Delia Domingo-Albert, to Australia.

While Mrs Domingo-Albert has long-standing links with Australia, including as Ambassador to Australia in 1994-2001, this is her first visit to Australia as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.

Our talks today reaffirmed the importance of the bilateral relationship and we discussed key bilateral and international issues. Australia and the Philippines share many common perspectives on regional and global issues including the importance of United States’ engagement in the region, our commitment to the war against terrorism and the Coalition’s peace and rebuilding efforts in Iraq.

Counter-terrorism cooperation and development assistance are the key pillars of our relationship with the Philippines - our fourth largest bilateral aid recipient ($55 million in 2003-04). The Philippines remains a substantial trade partner with two-way trade worth $1.8 billion in 2003.

Mrs Domingo-Albert and I had useful discussions today about the on-going counter-terrorism effort in the region. We noted the continuing threat posed by terrorism and reaffirmed our determination to continue to work with our regional partners to remove this scourge. Australia is providing a $5 million package of counter-terrorism assistance to the Philippines announced during the Prime Minister Howard’s visit to the Philippines in July 2003.

The increasing depth and substance in Australia-ASEAN economic relations was highlighted and we both welcomed the statement from ASEAN Economic Ministers supporting an ASEAN/Australia/New Zealand Free Trade Area. We also welcomed the decision to encourage a summit between ASEAN, Australia and New Zealand later this year, which marks the 30th anniversary of Australian-ASEAN relations.

We also shared perspectives on recent developments in Iraq. Both Australia and the Philippines reaffirmed our strong commitment to Coalition stabilisation and reconstruction efforts and agreed it was not the time to cut and run from the Iraqi people in their time of need.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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