MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has ensured that the Philippines will continue to have “friendly and cooperative” relations with Canada, Iran, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Palestine, Malacañang said on Friday.

Duterte gave the guarantee during the presentation of credentials of the five countries’ ambassadors held at Malacañan Palace on Friday afternoon, the Palace said in a press statement.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte affirmed anew the Philippines’ friendly and cooperative ties with the State of Palestine, New Zealand, Canada, Islamic Republic of Iran, and Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” it said.

Duterte, Malacañang said, hailed Canada as “an old friend and important development partner” of the Philippines when he accepted the credentials of Canadian Ambassador to the Philippines James Peter MacArthur.

The Palace said Duterte expressed hope that the Philippines and Canada would boost cooperation in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and other key areas of mutual concern.

“The President expressed hope that Ambassador MacArthur’s tenure in Manila will lead to more robust and wide-ranging cooperation, especially in the fight against Covid-19, trade and investments, maritime security and marine environmental protection, development issues, agriculture, and education,” it said.

Malacañang said MacArthur assured Duterte that Canada would help the Philippines in the fight against Covid-19.

MacArthur, it added, also lauded Duterte for his “signature achievements,” which include the crafting of peace agreement and the establishment of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the signing of the Universal Healthcare Act, and the implementation of the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Duterte, the Palace said, also recognized Vietnam as the Philippines’ “important friend and neighbor” when he conveyed his best wishes to Vietnamese Ambassador to the Philippines Hoang Huy Chung as the new envoy starts his tenure in Manila.

Malacañang said Duterte stressed that the Philippines and Vietnam, as strategic partners, 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, as quoted by the Palace, said.

The Palace said Duterte also reaffirmed the Philippines’ readiness to enhance cooperation with Vietnam to contain Covid-19 and hasten the economic recovery under the new normal.

“Ambassador Hoang Huy Chung, for his part, conveyed the warmest greetings of President Nguyen Phu Trong to President Duterte. The Ambassador noted that the elevation of Vietnam-Philippines relations to a Strategic Partnership in 2015 ushered in a new era for bilateral cooperation,” it said.

Duterte also welcomed the first Palestinian Ambassador to the Philippines Saleh Asad Saleh Fhied Mohammad and viewed the re-establishment of Palestine’s embassy in Manila last year as a “new chapter in Philippines-Palestine relations,” Malacañang said

The Palace said Duterte hoped that the Philippines’ ties with Palestine would lead to fruitful engagement in various areas of mutual interest.

“Ambassador Saleh Mohammad, for his part, expressed the warm and fraternal greetings of Palestinian President H.E. Mahmoud Abbas to the President 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,” it said.

Duterte also accepted the credentials of Peter Francis Tavita Kell as New Zealand’s Ambassador to the Philippines.

Malacañang said Duterte told Kell that the Philippines is interested in pursuing cooperation with New Zealand in geothermal energy development, as well as in deepening engagement in defense and security, especially in maritime security and combating terrorism and transnational crimes.

Kell, in turn, affirmed his commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s relations with the Philippines during his tour of duty in the host country, the Palace added.

The Palace said Duterte also acknowledged the “long-standing friendship” between Iran and the Philippines when he welcomed the assumption of Iranian Ambassador to the Philippines Alireza Tootoonchian.

Duterte also expressed deep appreciation to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for pardoning a Filipino national who was imprisoned in Iran and hoped for “stronger bilateral ties” with the Arab nation, particularly in science and technology and people-to-people exchanges, it stressed.

“Ambassador Tootoonchian, for his part, conveyed the best wishes of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his 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, particularly under President Duterte, and its advocacy for peaceful co-existence among peoples of different faiths,” Malacañang said.

Meantime, Duterte also congratulated outgoing Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Jaideep Mazumdar for the latter’s successful tour of duty in the Philippines, Malacañang said.

This, after Mazumdar paid a farewell call on Duterte through telephone on Friday evening.

“Ambassador Mazumdar’s three-year tenure in the Philippines was marked by deepening bilateral cooperation between the Philippines and India. President Duterte commended his exemplary service, especially for his contributions to significantly enhance political dialogue at the highest levels,” the Palace said.

The Palace said Duterte thanked Mazumdar for providing assistance to Filipino pediatric liver transplant patients seeking affordable transplant procedure in India.

“Ambassador Mazumdar, for his part, expressed sincere gratitude to the President and the Philippine Government for the cooperation and support as he carried out his mandate of fostering closer relations between the Philippines and India,” it said. (PNA)

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