UK seeks enhanced ties with Asean countries

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AseanAsean – The United Kingdom’s (UK) Minister of State for Asia on Monday expressed her country’s “serious” desire to grow its relationship with the Philippines and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

In a video posted on Twitter, Amanda Milling said she spent the last three days in the Philippines and met with Cabinet secretaries and other high-ranking Philippines government officials to discuss “shared interests” such as climate change, regional security, business prospects, Covid-19, and human rights.

“I’ve also met with British businesses, civil society, program partners, and our brilliant Chevening scholars who attended world-leading UK universities,” Milling said.

Milling’s visit is the first by a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) minister since the UK’s confirmation as an Asean Dialogue Partner in August.

It was her first visit to Asia and coincides with the UK’s 75 years of diplomatic relations with the Philippines.

She noted that the Indo-Pacific region, where the Philippines and other Asean countries are located, is “of huge strategic importance to the UK.”

“In the Philippines, a founding member of ASEAN, I reiterated our commitment to working with the region on vital issues such as maritime security and building back better after Covid-19,” Milling said.

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During her visit, she also went to the Manila-American cemetery to pay her respects and had the Philippines removed from the UK travel red list, allowing those in the country to travel to the UK.

Her visit to the Philippines is the first stop of an Indo-Pacific tour that would include Singapore and Japan.

The Philippines through the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the United Kingdom (UK) have recently signed a memorandum of understanding on the recruitment of healthcare professionals to improve the recruitment mechanisms that would further strengthen the protection of the rights of Filipino healthcare workers.

Bello said the agreement will further enhance the protection mechanisms for Filipino healthcare professionals in the areas of recruitment, policy development, and education and training, among others, while the British government already extends to Filipino workers in the UK the same employment rights and benefits as the British nationals.

“The signing of this Memorandum of Understanding on the Recruitment of Filipino Healthcare Professionals between the Philippines and the United Kingdom comes at a very crucial time,” Bello said in a statement on Wednesday.

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