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RP-Australia finalize defense pact, ‘ready for signing’

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By Joel Guinto

Last updated 08:11pm (Mla time) 05/28/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and Australia have finalized their first ever defense cooperation agreement, that will pave the way for joint training between the two countries’ military forces.

The Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) is “ready for signing,” according to a statement from the Department of National Defense (DND). The department did not say exactly when the agreement would be signed.

The DND said the SOVFA would provide a “comprehensive legal framework” for cooperation between the Australian Defense Forces (ADF) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in combating “common threats.”

“This agreement contains key elements such as the basis of visits, entry and departure conditions, how training and exercises are to be conducted, carriage of arms, security and criminal jurisdiction, importation and exportation regulations and environmental protection,” the DND statement said.

“The SOVFA offers opportunities and benefits to the AFP in terms of education, capacity-building, humanitarian assistance, and disaster response,” the statement added.

The SOVFA will be submitted to the Philippine Senate for concurrence, as prescribed in the Constitution, the DND said, adding that the pact was “fair, balanced, reciprocal, and promotes our national interests.”

The Philippines is negotiating similar military pacts with neighbor countries including Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia.

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Written by joelguinto

Mon+00:002007-05-28T13:32:12+00:00+00:0005b+00:00Mon, 28 May 2007 13:32:12 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm05

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