MALACANANG, OCTOBER 17, 2003  (OPS) United States President George W. Bush will arrive on Saturday for an eight-hour state visit that is aimed at strengthening US bilateral relations with the Philippines and intensifying cooperation and partnership between the two countries in the fight against international terrorism.

On board the Air Force One and accompanied by US First Lady Laura Bush, Bush is expected to arrive in the country shortly after noon on Saturday. He will immediately proceed to Luneta for wreath-laying ceremonies at the Jose Rizal Monument.

Afterward, the American President will proceed to Malacanang, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, accompanied by First Gentleman Atty. Jose Miguel Arroyo, will formally welcome him. He will be accorded full military arrival honors at the Palace grounds.

Thereafter, Bush will sign the presidential guest book at the Malacanang Palace landing.

Right after the short ceremony, the two Presidents will have a meeting at the Study Room, followed by an expanded bilateral meeting at the State Dining Room.

The two leaders are expected to issue later on separate statements regarding the bilateral meetings, according to state visit’s designated spokesman Ambassador Victoriano Lecaros.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Bush and Atty. Arroyo will have a separate activity – a story-telling session with some 350 school children at the Palace’s Kalayaan Hall.

In the afternoon, Bush will address the joint session of the Philippine Congress at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

During a press briefing in Malacanang, Lecaros said it is expected that Bush will deliver a half-hour speech before the legislature that would delve on the two countries’ bilateral relations

Lecaros also noted that many expect Bush "to say something very significant for the region and he will enunciate it from out of here."

Bush will also have a meeting with Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Jose de Venecia and the respective heads of the majority and minority parties of both houses.

Later in the afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Bush will return to Malacanang for a "barrio fiesta" cocktail reception at the Palace grounds.

In the evening, the President and First Gentleman will host the traditional state banquet for the American presidential couple at Malacanang’s Ceremonial Hall.

Bush is expected to depart Manila early Sunday morning.

During the press briefing in Malacanang, Ambassador Lecaros introduced Ms. Susan Ralston, a Filipino-American who works in the White House as executive assistant to Karl Rove, Senior Advisor to Bush.

"This goes to show that our relationship with United States transcends or permeates so many levels," Lecaros said.

President Macapagal-Arroyo has said that the Filipino people will make every effort to make President Bush’ stay, however short, both meaningful and memorable.

"Security preparations are in place and we are ready to give him a rousing welcome deserving of a friend and ally of the Philippines.

Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo has also noted that Bush’s state visit heralds a new chapter in Philippine-U.S. trade relations with the expected huge influx of new business and investment opportunities between the two countries.

"The Philippines must harness its economic relations with the US for it to realize its goals in the area of bilateral trade by seeking fair trade – one that opens the US markets to Philippine products and that will enhance development," she said.


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