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Papua New Guinea asks RP support for Asean membership bid

MANILA, Philippines - Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare has asked President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to support his nation's bid for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean). A Malacañang statement Monday said Somare sought President Arroyo's backing during a state dinner she hosted in his honor at the Shangri-la Resort in Boracay. "My government is seriously contemplating in seeking full membership in Asean; therefore, I seek your government's positive consideration and support in this regard," Somare said. "Unlike the Philippines, a full member of Asean, Papua New Guinea maintains a special observer status in this paramount regional organization," he added. Somare, who is in the Philippines for a four-day official visit, arrived in the country Sunday. He pointed out that Papua New Guinea is ready and able to fulfill the requirements of membership in the regional grouping. Also, he cited the need for a "well-coordinated regional effort" to address the global financial meltdown "which undoubtedly is impacting our economies." On the other hand, Somare said his visit affirms his government’s strong commitment to the strengthening of the relations between his country and the Philippines. Somare made the statement during expanded bilateral talks he held with President Arroyo Monday morning at the Sagana 1 & 2 Function Room of Shangri-la Resort and Spa. During the talks, the two leaders cited the importance of the memorandum of agreement (MOU) on Fisheries Cooperation signed by Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap and PNG Fisheries Minister Ben Semri in enhancing the two countries' friendly ties. They said various arrangements still being worked out by officials of the two countries would pave the way for increased bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. - GMANews.TV