Ardern, Duterte talk travel before private meeting

Ardern, Duterte talk travel before private meeting

There was not much buzz about New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during her first Philippine visit, but she ended the trip with agreements signed with her host government and the country's national carrier that are seen to boost ties between the two countries.

The Philippines and New Zealand signed late Tuesday a memorandum of cooperation aimed at improving the education system in the Southeast Asian nation.

The memorandum tackles the comparative analysis of the two countries' bachelor's degrees, which, according to Duterte, means the Philippines "can have access to the quality of education in New Zealand".

It was signed by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chairperson Patricia Licuanan and New Zealand Ambassador to the Philippines David Strachan.

He said his main interest was in the 50,000 Filipinos in New Zealand.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters held a bilateral meeting with his counterpart from China, Wang Yi, a few days ago in Vietnam on the sidelines of Apec, where the issue of Chinese fugitives in New Zealand was discussed.

Ardern also praised Romeo Udanga, a Filipino-born politician who ran under Ardern's Labour party and had sought a seat in Parliament.

Ardern said earlier in the day she planned to raise human rights issues with Duterte, as many other leaders have in light of the state sanctioned execution of thousands of drug traffickers without trial.

President Duterte meanwhile told Prime Minister Ardern that he was able to visit New Zealand twice, and that the people of New Zealand are great people.

Mr Duterte said: "Auckland treats its citizens well". No doubt about it.

"I was very pleased today that there has been an announcement that Philippine Airlines will be flying direct to New Zealand starting in December which will be a fantastic opportunity", Ardern said.

Li had also been keen to hear from the new Prime Minister that the overall approach to relations with China would be broadly the same. It's impressive but [there's] always more opportunity.

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