November 9, 2023
MANILA – Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta arrived in Manila on Wednesday for an official visit to discuss technical, political, educational and economic cooperation.
Ramos-Horta will meet with President Marcos in Malacañang on Friday to further strengthen bilateral relations as well as Timor-Leste’s candidacy for membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), which the Philippines sponsored, said Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria Garafil on Wednesday. Ramos-Horta’s meeting with Mr. Marcos will happen a week after the Philippine leader met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Malacañang.
Ramos-Horta was welcomed by Philippine Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Belinda Ante and Manila International Airport Authority Assistant General Manager Manuel Gonzales upon his arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
Garafil said Mr. Marcos expressed the Philippines’ continued support for Timor-Leste during his bilateral meeting with Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak on the sidelines of the 42nd Asean Summit in Indonesia in May.
“In the Philippines, you have a partner. We have always been supportive,” Mr. Marcos told the Prime Minister.
During their meeting, Mr. Marcos thanked Timor-Leste for rejecting the of application of expelled Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. for political asylum.
“In denying his request for political asylum, we are closer to [bringing] him back home to face the allegations that have been made [against him]. But again, we thank you for your very quick response in that regard,” Marcos told Ruak.
Although it declared its intention to join the Asean bloc soon after it seceded from Indonesia in 2002, Timor-Leste applied officially for Asean membership in 2011 and has since been an official observer. Once it gains official membership, Timor-Leste will be the regional bloc’s first new member since Cambodia in 1999.