Apr 152013


Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (C) salutes as he walks past Philippine honour guards as he arrives at Manila International Airport on April 15, 2013. Hassanal Bolkiah is in Manila for a two-day state visit. AFP PHOTO / NOEL CELIS

MANILA, Philippines–Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah flew in Monday for a brief 24-hour-long state visit to the Philippines ahead of next week’s 22nd summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei.

The President will host a state luncheon for Bolkiah in Malacañang Tuesday when the latter pays a courtesy call.

Malacañang said the two leaders will tackle Brunei’s chairmanship of the summit on April 24 and 25 in Bandar Seri Bagawan. The South China Sea conflict looms large in the agenda of their meeting.

In the recent Asean Ministerial Meeting, Asean foreign ministers stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of the standoff in the South China Sea by four claimant countries, including the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Member-countries are looking to Brunei to mediate negotiations to reach a common position on the conflict by the signing of a Code of Conduct to minimize the risk of conflict in the international waterway.

“Brunei is going to be the chairman, I think, of the Asean. So, as to what the details will be, that’s something that will be taken up during the bilateral meeting,’’ Secretary Edwin Lacierda, presidential spokesperson, said in a briefing.

Lacierda could not say if the Code of Conduct would be tackled during the courtesy call, saying that as far as he knew Asean member-countries would draft this first, and then ask China to take a look at it.

“We’ll see first, we’ll see first,’’ he said on the agreement by foreign ministers from Asean and China to hold a special meeting on the progress of the Code of Conduct.

After the ceremonial wreath-laying at Dr. Jose Rizal’s monument at the Rizal Park at around 10:20 a.m. Tuesday, Bolkiah will motor to Malacañang to pay a courtesy call on Aquino, Malacañang said.

At noon, Aquino will host a state luncheon for Bolkiah and his delegation at the Rizal Hall, where both will issue remarks. Bolkiah is scheduled to fly out of the country at around 3 p.m.

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