Duterte welcomes new ambassadors in PH, sends off Indian envoy

Published June 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Argyll Geducos

President Rodrigo R. Duterte affirmed anew the Philippines’ ties with Palestine, New Zealand, Canada, Iran, and Vietnam via videoconferencing in Malacañang Friday, the first for the presentation of credentials of ambassadors due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte
In a statement, Malacañang said Duterte welcomed Saleh Asad Saleh Fhied Mohammad, Palestine’s first ambassador after the re-establishment of its Embassy in Manila last year.

According to the President, Palestine’s decision to reopen its Embassy marks a new chapter for both countries’ relations, which Duterte hoped will lead to fruitful engagement in various areas of mutual interest.

The Palestinian envoy, for his part, extended President Mahmoud Abbas’ best wishes to President Duterte and the Filipino people. He stressed that he looks forward to carrying out his mission of fostering friendly ties and cooperation between Palestine and the Philippines.

New Zealand and geothermal energy

President Duterte likewise accepted the credentials of Peter Francis Tavita Kell as ambassador of New Zealand to the Philippines.

According to Malacañang, Duterte expressed interest in pursuing cooperation with New Zealand in geothermal energy development as well as in strengthening engagement in defense and security, especially in maritime security and combating terrorism and transnational crimes.

Canada and the fight vs. COVID-19

President Duterte, meanwhile, lauded Canada as “an old friend and important development partner” as he accepted the credentials of Ambassador James Peter MacArthur.

Duterte told MacArthur his hopes of fostering more robust and wide-ranging cooperation with Canada, especially in the fight against COVID-19, trade and investments, maritime security and marine environmental protection, development issues, agriculture, and education.

MacArthur, in turn, congratulated the President on his “signature achievements” in peace, healthcare, and infrastructure programs. He added that Canada was one with the Philippines in combatting COVID-19.

Iran and an invite to visit

Noting the more than five-decade friendship between Iran and the Philippines, President Duterte welcomed Alireza Tootoonchian as ambassador of the Middle Eastern country to Manila.

The President conveyed his deep appreciation to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for pardoning a Filipino national who was imprisoned in Iran.

He also expressed hope for “stronger bilateral ties, particularly in science and technology and people-to-people exchanges” in the coming years.

Tootoonchian, for his part, extended Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s invitation for the President to visit Iran at the earliest opportunity.

He also stated that the Philippines enjoys a special standing in Iran because of the country’s independent foreign policy and its advocacy for peaceful coexistence among peoples of different faiths.

Vietnam and ASEAN

President Duterte hailed Vietnam as an important friend and neighbor when he accepted the credentials of Hoang Huy Chung as the ambassador of Vietnam.

The President stressed that as strategic partners, the Philippines and Vietnam should continue working closely together to promote peace and security in the region, especially in the maritime sphere.

“We count on Vietnam’s continued support for our advocacy for the rule of law, peaceful resolution of disputes, and keeping the global commons – particularly in our region’s maritime space – free and open,” Duterte said.

Duterte likewise reaffirmed the Philippines’ readiness to enhance its bilateral cooperation with Vietnam through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and fast-track economic recovery under the new normal.

The Vietnamese envoy, in return, noted that the elevation of Vietnam-Philippines relations to a Strategic Partnership in 2015 ushered in a new era for bilateral cooperation.

Farewell call

Meanwhile, President Duterte congratulated Jaideep Mazumdar on his successful tour of duty as Indian Ambassador to the Philippines.

In a phone call on Friday, Duterte commended the envoy for his exemplary service, especially for his contributions to significantly enhance political dialogue at the highest levels.

Mazumdar’s three-year tenure in the Philippines was marked by deepening bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and India.

The President likewise thanked Mazumdar for providing assistance to Filipino pediatric liver transplant patients seeking affordable transplant procedures in India.

Mazumdar, for his part, expressed his gratitude to the President and the government for the cooperation and support as he carried out his mandate of fostering closer relations between the Philippines and India.

The President undertook an official visit to India in 2018 and received Indian President Ram Nath Kovind during a state visit to the Philippines last year.