President Rodrigo Duterte and partner Cielito ‘Honeylet’ Avanceña pose with the president of the Republic of India, Ram Nath Kovind, his wife Savita, and some of the performers during the state banquet hosted by President Duterte at Malacañan Palace on Oct. 18, 2019. President Kovind is on a five-day state visit to the Philippines. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Visiting Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and President Rodrigo Duterte witnessed the signing of four agreements on Friday afternoon at Malacañan Palace.

President Kovind is on a five-day visit to Manila upon the invitation of President Duterte, to mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) expected to strengthen cooperation in tourism and hospitality sector between the two countries was signed by officials from the Department of Tourism and the Indian Ministry of Tourism.

Another MOU on the sharing of white shipping information was signed between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Indian Navy.

The two countries’ respective science and technology ministries agreed to cooperate on activities beginning this year until 2022.

A cultural exchange program was also signed between the two governments.

During their press briefing, President Duterte said the signing of agreements would further strengthen ties between the two nations.  He added that the friendship between Manila and new Delhi brought “tremendous opportunities” between their peoples.

“With the signing of bilateral agreements, we have likewise widened the path towards enhancement of our engagement in maritime security, science (and) technology, tourism and cultural cooperation,” President Duterte added.  

President Kovind said the agreements would allow the two countries to “explore both their common future.”  He also acknowledged that the Philippines and India were “natural partners” in fulfilling their respective “national development and security objectives.”

Underscoring the importance of cooperation between the two governments, President Kovind said people-to-people relations form the bedrock of strong bilateral relations. (Melo M. Acuña)