Musharraf and Arroyo to sign MOU against terrorism
MANILA: President General Pervez Musharraf arrived in Manila on Monday for a three-day visit during which he said he would sign several agreements with Philippine’s President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, including one to expand cooperation to combat terrorism.
A statement by Musharraf said, “I look forward to my meeting with President Arroyo, I am confident that our discussions will help evolve new mechanisms for further enhancement of bilateral cooperation in political, economic, security and social fields.” He added that during his visit he would sign MOUs on cooperation in combating terrorism, visa abolition and cultural exchange programme. The signing of the agreements, he said, reflect the resolve of the two countries to expand bilateral ties.
Musharraf is the first Pakistani president to go on a state visit to the Philippine. He is scheduled to address a joint session of Philippine Congress today (Tuesday) and attend a state banquet hosted by Arroyo, whose father late President Diosdado Macapagal was the first Philippine head of state to visit Pakistan in 1962.
The two leaders will discuss expanding counterterrorism cooperation, the promotion of interfaith dialogue and the ongoing peace process between the Philippine government and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has been fighting for a separate Muslim homeland in the south for decades, said the Philippine government in a statement.
The talks also will include the Philippines’ bid for observer status in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, of which Pakistan is a key member.
Filipino militants have trained in Pakistan in the past and security experts say the southern Philippines is a haven for militants of various nationalities. Hashim Salamat, the late founder of the MILF, lived in Pakistan for several years. “Pakistan is one of the major problems for the Philippines,” said a former intelligence official asking not to be named. ap