Rabat, Morocco – The Philippine and Moroccan governments have signed an air services agreement, which would pave the way for a direct flight from the North African state to the country and vice versa.
“We signed this to improve connectivity, boost tourism and help our national carriers. It’s actually in their interest (the airlines) that they activate and then they pursue the provisions of this air services agreement,” Philippine Ambassador to Morocco Leslie Baja told the agency. Philippine Press (PNA).
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. signed on behalf of the Philippines while his Moroccan counterpart Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita signed on behalf of the Kingdom of Morocco.
The two senior diplomats also signed a memorandum of understanding on political consultations and another memorandum of understanding between the Foreign Service Institute and the Moroccan Academy of Diplomatic Studies.
The three agreements are in addition to the news exchange agreement concluded between the ANP and Maghreb Arabe Presse also on March 16.
READ: The ANP signs a cooperation agreement with its Moroccan counterpart
The signing capped the bilateral meeting between Locsin and Bourita at the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in Rabat, where the two officials discussed ways to advance the two countries’ common interests, including migration, climate change, counterterrorism, peacekeeping, and maritime cooperation.
“I express our gratitude for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality extended to us by the Kingdom of Morocco. In return, we look forward to welcoming His Excellency Minister Bourita to the Philippines at an appropriate time,” Locsin told a press conference at the MFA.
“During this visit, we reaffirmed the strong interest of both parties in enhancing opportunities for cooperation between our countries and our peoples,” he said.
On the Sahara issue, Locsin said Manila is committed to upholding the principles enshrined in the UN Charter that all states enjoy the right to full sovereignty in all areas of their jurisdiction.
“The Charter of the United Nations requires sovereign states to refrain from the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state. We are witnessing its violation elsewhere,” he said.
“We particularly condemn – indeed, I said at the UN, we abhor the use of separatism and secession as a weapon of diplomacy; these are the cruellest conflicts where neighbors turn on neighbors and know how to hurt each other the deepest,” he added.
Bourita hailed Manila’s stance supporting their territorial integrity, noting that Morocco also views issues of territorial integrity and national sovereignty of all countries, including the Philippines, in the same way.
The parties agreed to coordinate their positions within regional and international organizations to counter the rapprochement between separatism and terrorism, as well as to deal with attempts by countries whose “core business” is to undermine stability by encouraging and harboring terrorists and separatist groups.
“Morocco and the Philippines will coordinate to defend their territorial integrity and fight separatist and extremist groups wherever they are,” Bourita said.
He said Locsin’s trip was the first time a senior Filipino diplomat had visited Morocco since the Philippine embassy was closed in the 1990s, describing him as a “game changer” in the diplomatic relations of the Philippines. two nations.
He said this is also part of King Mohammed VI’s vision to diversify Morocco’s partnerships.
Bourita said political cooperation and consultation mechanisms would be activated regularly throughout the year to coordinate Manila and Rabat’s positions on several regional and international issues.
He spoke of the need to develop economic relations with the Philippines, especially with the opportunities that the two countries can open up to each other in their respective regions.
As a “major element” in Southeast Asia, Bourita said the Philippines was a strong partner for Morocco in the region.
He said Manila can also serve as a gateway for Morocco as it strengthens its ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), just as Rabat can serve as a gateway for Morocco. entry for the sustained economic presence of the Philippines in Africa.
In an interview, Baja said Locsin’s visit to Morocco is historic in that it took place after the embassy in Rabat resumed operations and the Moroccan embassy in Manila opened.
“Opening and reopening has boosted bilateral relations, we can have meetings and of course we have all these agreements that have been signed,” he said. (NAP/MAP)