Manila, Istanbul eye defense, military cooperation

THE PHILIPPINES and Turkey are looking to ink an agreement to
strengthen defense and military cooperation as the two countries move
to improve ties.

In her speech before the Filipino community in Istanbul on
Wednesday, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said she had met with
Turkish President Abdullah Gul and the two leaders agreed to boost
bilateral relations through increased military assistance.

“Our defense cooperation is getting stronger. During my meeting
with President Gul, he said he hoped we could sign an agreement on
defense and military cooperation,” she said.

She added a Turkish company, which was not named, is set to deliver six armored personnel carriers to the military in November.

Jewelry exports

Mrs. Arroyo also said the Philippines is eyeing to export jewelry to Turkey to improve trade.

“There are many trade opportunities between the two countries.
We are offering our jewelry because the Philippines is considered one
of the leading jewelry exporters in the world. We are 12th among
costume jewelry-exporting countries,” the President said.

“We are really promoting this and even President Gul said
there’s a big potential. He also said he respects the Philippines for
being among those nations that were not affected by the global
financial crisis.”

Mrs. Arroyo said Trade Secretary Peter B. Favila had met with
the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and Industry on ways to improve trade.

Apart from jewelry, she said the Philippines is also promoting
halal food as well as fresh and processed food and other agricultural
commodities. Halal is a Muslim way of product processing.

Mrs. Arroyo also acknowledged Turkey’s assistance in the
Mindanao peace process as a member of the Organization of Islamic
Conference peace committee in Mindanao.

From Turkey, the President is proceeding to London to attend the 2009 Emerging Markets Summit hosted by The Economist magazine.

She would be joining Tunisia Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi,
Rwanda President Paul Kagame, United Kingdom Secretary of State Lord
Mandelson, Mexican Finance Minister Augustin Cartens and European
Commissioner for External Trade Catherine Ashton during the two-day
summit at the Park Plaza Riverbank.

Her last stop is Saudi Arabia where she will meet with Saudi
King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to advance the cause of about 1.5 million
overseas Filipino workers there.

Mrs. Arroyo will be back in Manila on Sept. 24 or 25. — B. S. Sto. Domingo