Cambodia, Philippines boost relations with four pacts

Mr Duterte (centre) at the monument of the late King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh yesterday, with the statue of the late King behind him. The Philippine leader was there to lay wreaths and pay his respects. Cambodian students lining the streets to
Mr Duterte (centre) at the monument of the late King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh yesterday, with the statue of the late King behind him. The Philippine leader was there to lay wreaths and pay his respects.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Mr Duterte (centre) at the monument of the late King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh yesterday, with the statue of the late King behind him. The Philippine leader was there to lay wreaths and pay his respects. Cambodian students lining the streets to
Cambodian students lining the streets to welcome Mr Duterte ahead of his arrival at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh yesterday to meet King Sihamoni.PHOTO: REUTERS

PHNOM PENH • Cambodia and the Philippines yesterday signed four bilateral cooperation documents, focusing on anti-transnational crime, tourism, labour protection and sports, a Cambodian spokesman said.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and visiting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the signing ceremony of the agreements after their bilateral meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

The deals included a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on cooperation in combating transnational crime, a five-year tourism cooperation agreement, and MOUs on labour protection, as well as on sports cooperation, said Mr Eang Sophalleth, a spokesman for the Prime Minister.

"These agreements are important to deepen bilateral cooperation between the two countries," he told reporters after the meeting.

According to the spokesman, during the talks, the two leaders pledged to enhance bilateral cooperation in agriculture, tourism, business and trade, and in combating cross-border crime, terrorism and drugs.

He said that Mr Duterte also announced an offer of 60 scholarships to Cambodian students and officials for studies in the Philippines next year.

Meanwhile, Mr Hun Sen congratulated the Philippines on its becoming the 2017 Asean chair and promised to cooperate with it for the success of the Asean summits next year.

Mr Duterte arrived in Cambodia on Tuesday for a two-day state visit at the invitation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni.

The King took time out of a religious retreat yesterday to meet Mr Duterte at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, according to Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay.

He said the Philippines was grateful that the King came to receive Mr Duterte despite yesterday being a Buddhist holiday in Cambodia.

"The holiday is intended to honour the saints of their faith and the King is one of the saints of Cambodia, on account of which he normally is supposed to be in retreat. But he took this as an exception to meet our president, whom he considers a very important person," Mr Yasay told reporters.

Before Mr Duterte's arrival at the Royal Palace, Cambodian students waving Philippine flags and carrying his pictures lined the streets.

After meeting the King, Mr Duterte visited the Independence Memorial and the monument of the late King Norodom Sihanouk, to lay wreaths and pay his respects.

XINHUA, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Cambodia, Philippines boost relations with four pacts'. Print Edition | Subscribe