Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono awarded "Adipurna" Star to Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in appreciation of his role in strengthening the relations between the two countries.

"This is the highest award the Indonesian government bestows on a foreigner," President Yudhoyono said before conferring the star on President Aquino on the sidelines of the 7th Bali Democracy Forum here on Friday.

President Yudhoyono said President Aquino deserved the award for his services in strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

"His efforts to promote the bilateral cooperation has opened a lot of opportunities," Yudhoyono noted referring to the economic cooperation between the two countries that has increased by 10.9 percent over the past five years.

He said he believed the hike will continue in the future.

President Yudhoyono also expressed his appreciation of President Aquinos role in peacefully settling the border problems between the two countries.

At a global level, the two countries have cooperated actively on various regional and international forums, especially in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Indonesia wants to increase its cooperation with the Philippines in the framework of the ASEAN Community," he said.

President Aquino lauded the award as the recognition of the increasing cooperation between the two countries.

He pointed out some Tagalog words that are similar to those in Bahasa Indonesia, such as "cinta" (love) and "balik" (return), to refer to the close relations between the two nations.

Aquino said the award was an honor and recognition of the limitless partnership between the two countries and was in the interests of both nations.

He praised President Yudhoyonos decade-long leadership and said Yudhoyono was not only a friend but also a brother for many countries.

After working hard for ten years, President Yudhoyono deserved a rest, Aquino said, clearly referring to Yudhoyonos term that will come to an when President-elect Joko Widodo will be sworn in on October 20.

President Aquiono and President Yudhoyono co-chaired the 7th BDF, an annual event initiated by President Yudhoyono in 2008 and has now become part of the agenda of democracy discourses in the Asia-Pacific region.

The event has served as a forum to increase regional and international cooperation to advance inclusive democracy through the exchange of the experiences of countries involved.

The BDF this year, which is the last to be opened by President Yudhoyono, was attended by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah from Brunei Darussalam and Prime Minister of Timor Leste Xanana Gusmao. (*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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