Before heading for Manila, Aquino met with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) President and Chief Executive Officer Sung Yong-ha and Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force officials at the Gimhae Airbase for the inspection of the fighter jets, worth P18.9 billion.
Manila has acquired 12 FA-50 fighter jets from the state-owned Korean aerospace firm.
The Philippines' defense deal with South Korea aims to bolster the Philippine military’s defense capability amid increasing tensions in disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, who accompanied the President in Busan, South Korea, said that during the bilateral meeting between Aquino and South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Thursday, Aquino conveyed the Philippines’ intention to pursue a comprehensive strategic partnership with the Republic of Korea.
"He noted that the two countries are ‘sister democracies’ that ‘face the same threats and challenges of an evolving region’, while sharing the ‘values of freedom, respect for human rights, and adherence to the rule of law’," Coloma added.
He also said regional security concerns were discussed during the bilateral meeting as the two leaders reviewed the situation in the Korean Peninsula and in the West Philippine Sea.
“President Aquino reiterated the Philippines’ support for efforts on the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the early resumption of the six-party talks,” he said.
Aquino is set to arrive in Manila Friday night after his two-day trip to Busan where he attended the 25th anniversary of Association of Southeast Asian Nations-ROK Commemorative Summit.
Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit, President Benigno S. Aquino III inspected FA-50 aircraft at the Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) Ltd. in Busan, South Korea.