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Monday, August 11

PGMA invites Australian Prime Minister to visit RP

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has invited Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to address the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development, and the Philippine-Australian Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) set in Manila this October.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the President extended her invitation to the Australian leader to visit the Philippines during their bilateral meeting Saturday afternoon at the Asia Hotel, her official residence during her three-day working visit to this 29th Olympics city.

“The President invited Prime Minister Rudd to address the 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development. Of course, we are going to have also our Philippine-Australian Ministerial Meeting in October and they both agreed that this would be a good time for PM Rudd to visit the Philippines,” Romulo told members of the Philippine media covering the President’s visit here.

Romulo said foreign office officials of both countries will work out a suitable arrangement for Rudd’s trip to the Philippines to coincide with the holding of the forum on migration and the PAMM.

The forum, he added, is a good opportunity to tackle immigration issues between the Philippines and Australia and ensure that the interests and welfare of the nationalities of both the sending and receiving countries will always be respected and protected.

According to Romulo about 200,000 Filipinos, mostly professionals such as engineers, doctors, lawyers, teachers and business people, are living in Australia.

“So it will be an opportune time for Australia to be in the 2nd global forum in as much as this meeting (concerns) both the sending and receiving countries,” he said.

The two leaders would also explore ways and means to advance the interests of both the Philippines and Australia in the region, Romulo added.

He pointed out that aside from hosting thousands of Filipinos, Australia is one of the Philippines’ major sources of development assistance. From A$68 million, Australia’s official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines has doubled to A$120-A$140 million.

Australia’s development assistance has been of “great help to our many projects, including those in southern Mindanao,” Romulo said.

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