VIENTIANE, Lao PDR – President Benigno S. Aquino III greets Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda during the bilateral meeting at the Dok Chik Room of the National Convention Centre at the sidelines of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM9) on Monday (November 05). Japan continues to be the Philippines’ top source of official development assistance (ODS). Japan’s assistance, through loans, grants and technical cooperation covers a wide range of areas, including public works, socio-economic infrastructure, transportation and communications, agriculture and capability-building among many others. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 7 (Mabuhay) — Member-countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) have committed to further support the development of Mindanao following the signing of the Framework Agreement for peace last month, President Beningo S. Aquino III said on Tuesday.

The President arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 Tuesday evening from a two-day attendance to the 9th ASEM held in Vientiane, Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

In his arrival statement, the President said leaders of ASEM have praised the Philippines for forging the Framework Agreement for  with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“Nasa inisyal na bahagi pa lamang po ang kasunduan natin sa MILF, ngunit ang mga kaibigan natin, sunud-sunod ang nais na ipaabot na tulong, habang ang matagal na nating katuwang, dodoblehin pa raw po nila ang kanilang pagtulong,” the President stressed.

Aside from the peace deal with the Muslim separatists, the ASEM member-countries expressed their admiration for the Philippines, particularly in its reform initiatives, saying they want to take part in the transformation of the country, he added.

In his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the President said the discussion centered on the clear rules in the West Philippine Sea as well as the peace in Mindanao.

“Nagpasalamat din tayo sa bansang Hapon sa kanilang ambag upang masimulan ang kasunduang pangkapayapaan sa Bangsamoro,” he said noting the importance of Japan’s contribution in the peace process, particularly his Narita meeting with MILF top leaders in August 2011.

Japan, along with the UK, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, comprises the International Contact Group (ICG), established in December 2009 to pursue lasting peace in Mindanao.

Aside from Japan’s participation in the Mindanao peace effort, it is also a major partner of the Philippines in defense cooperation and anti-poverty campaign, he said.

The Philippine government and the MILF signed on October 15 the Framework Agreement, which lays down the groundwork for the final and enduring peace in Mindanao.

Present during the signing were President Aquino, MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. (MNS)