Brunei will continue to assist in peacekeeping efforts

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday assured Philippines President Benigno Aquino that Brunei Darussalam will continue to provide assistance in their peacekeeping efforts in the southern Philippines (Mindanao) and lauded the initiatives President Aquino had taken to promote peace and reconciliation in the southern Philippines.

His Majesty said this in a titah during the State Luncheon hosted by President Aquino. His Majesty concluded the two-day State Visit to the Philippines yesterday.

The luncheon began with a speech by President Aquino and was followed by His Majestyís titah.

His Majesty thanked the president for the warm welcome and hospitality extended to His Majesty by the Government and people of the Philippines.

His Majesty said he was much impressed by the progress and development which had taken place in the Philippines since his last visit five years ago. His Majesty said he was happy to reaffirm the long-standing friendship and cooperation that exists between the two countries.

Over the years, the public and private sectors, as well the peoples of both countries had established close ties that reflect the quality and strength of the two nationsí relationship.

His Majesty was pleased to see that both governments were working together on projects and initiatives in agriculture, education, defence and more recently, in energy.

Brunei Darussalam, His Majesty added, is happy to be hosting more than 20,000 of the Filipino citizens, who are making important contributions to Brunei Darussalamís development. His Majesty believed that there are also many good opportunities for the people of both countries to explore further to promote trade and investment between Brunei Darussalam and the Republic of the Philippines.

As Asean Chair for this year, Brunei Darussalam will continue to work closely with the Philippines towards achieving concrete outcomes in economic growth and social progress and in promoting regional peace and stability, His Majesty said.

The ruler appreciated President Aquinoís continued support for Brunei Darussalamís Chairmanship, and looked forward to welcoming the president in Brunei Darussalam for the Asean Summit.

His Majesty extended the best wishes of the people of Brunei Darussalam for the lasting peace, happiness and prosperity for the people of the Philippines.

Earlier, His Majesty attended the Official Welcoming Ceremony in honour of His Majestyís State Visit to the Philippines, which was held at the Malacanang Palace.

Before arriving at the Malacanang Palace, His Majesty consented to attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park, Manila.

Upon arrival, His Majesty was greeted by Mayor Alfredo S Lim and Vice-Admiral Jose Luis Alano. This was followed by the national anthems of both countries. His Majesty then consented to lay the wreath at the monument.

Upon arrival at the Malacanang Palace, His Majesty was welcomed by President Aquino. His Majesty proceeded to the dais to receive the royal guard of honour which was accompanied by the National Anthem of Brunei Darussalam and the National Anthem of the Philippines, and a twenty-one gun salute. Later His Majesty inspected the royal guard of honour.

His Majesty was later introduced to the State Dignitaries of the Philippines.

After the ceremony, His Majesty consented to sign the visitorís book which was followed by a photo session with the President of the Philippines.

Both leaders held a bilateral meeting. During the meeting, His Majesty and President Aquino discussed bilateral issues of mutual interests as well as international and regional matters.

Accompanying His Majesty to the meeting and the ceremonies were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Ministerís Office; Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II; Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, Minister of Energy at the Prime Ministerís Office; Malai Hajah Halimah binti Malai Haji Yussof, Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to the Republic of the Philippines; as well as other senior government officials. - Borneo Bulletin (17 April 2013)