- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 22, 2001

MANILA — Struck by their similar upbringings, problems and challenges, Indonesian leader Megawati Sukarnoputri and the Philippines' Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met yesterday to reminisce and talk about troubles of the present.
Both are daughters of ex-presidents, both rule troubled Southeast Asian nations and both recently swept to power under similar circumstances.
Mrs. Megawati met Mrs. Arroyo for the first time as president in Manila on her first stop in an eight-day, whirlwind tour of nine other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
"President Megawati and I agreed that, because our fathers were like brothers, we should also be like sisters, supporting each other as we seek solutions to problems that we inherited in our respective nations," Mrs. Arroyo, standing beside Mrs. Megawati, told reporters after the presidents met.
"As we honor her and the Indonesian people, we reminisce the common struggles we share against poverty, oppression and injustice," Mrs. Arroyo said.
Mrs. Megawati said her country and the Philippines are negotiating bilateral agreements on forestry, tourism, social security, labor, manpower development, education and fishing.
Indonesia has offered to host ongoing talks between Manila and a large Muslim separatist rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Many have noted the striking similarities in the lives and rise to power of Mrs. Arroyo and Mrs. Megawati, both 54.
Mrs. Arroyo is the daughter of the late Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal, who ruled for four years to 1965, a year before the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos began his 20-year reign.
Mrs. Megawati's father is the late Indonesian founding president, Sukarno, who was deposed in 1966 by one of his generals, Suharto.
Both women were swept to power this year with the backing of their respective militaries to replace predecessors — Joseph Estrada of the Philippines and Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia — accused of incompetence and misrule.


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