Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top PH, US execs to meet on expansion of US military presence

MANILA, Philippines—The foreign and defense secretaries of the Philippines and the United States  are to meet in Washington D.C. on April 30 to discuss a proposed expansion of US military presence in the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Tuesday.
With Del Rosario at the talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will be Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Del Rosario said in a text message, adding that the two sides were still “finalizing the agenda.”
“But I would expect a comprehensive discussion of important bilateral areas of cooperation, especially since this is the first time we will participate in this format,” Del Rosario said.
“We will be guided by having the US as one of two strategic partners for the Philippines—the other being Japan—and also by having the US as our only treaty ally,” he added.
Raul Hernandez, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said the meeting “will be the first time ever that the Philippine foreign affairs and defense secretaries together will be meeting with their American counterparts.”
“We are readjusting and fine-tuning our bilateral engagement in view of changes in our regional and global environment,” he said.
“The Philippines and the US are also exploring new modes of cooperation that would enable the Philippines to achieve minimum credible defense capabilities,” he added.
Last January  27, senior officials of the Manila and Washington governments issued a joint statement at the end of a round of strategic talks saying they looked forward to continuing their high-level consultations at the higher level of the foreign and defense secretaries.