Kerry Says U.S. Committed To Philippines



Published on 18 December 2013

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by Merle David Kellerhals Jr.

(WireNews+Co)

Washington, D.C.

Secretary Kerry, Right, And Philippine Secretary Of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario
Secretary Kerry, Right, And Philippine Secretary Of Foreign Affairs Albert Del Rosario

Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is committed to working with the Philippines to address its most pressing security and economic challenges.

“That’s why we are negotiating a strong and enduring framework agreement that would enhance defense cooperation under our alliance,” Kerry said during a joint press conference with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario December 17 in Manila, the Philippines.

The alliance agreement would include increased rotations of U.S. forces in the Philippines, Kerry added, but he said that the United States has no plans to reopen former U.S. military bases there.

Del Rosario told reporters that he and Kerry continue to work on promoting bilateral relations that extend from political to defense and security, to economic cooperation, to regional and global concerns.

“We discussed on how we would elevate our alliance to another level, and this came in the form of the framework on increased rotational presence which we are currently negotiating,” del Rosario said. They also discussed how to address transnational threats, including counterterrorism, and securing Philippine maritime borders, he said.

Kerry and del Rosario also discussed how economic cooperation between the two historic allies will be expanded and what areas they are moving toward, del Rosario said. Talks also centered on a proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is intended to be a high-standard agreement on emerging trade issues of the 21st century.

The TPP is a proposed trade arrangement under negotiation by Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Kerry also told reporters that the United States will continue to help the Philippines as the nation goes through the process of recovery and reconstruction following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda.

“The American people are proud to help, and the American people, I think, take great pride in the fact that there is a spirit in our country of helping those in distress, but also there is a special affection for the Philippines,” Kerry said. The secretary visited the Philippine city of Tacloban, which was hard hit by the typhoon in November. The United States has been a major contributor of disaster relief in the aftermath of the storm.

Kerry also announced that the U.S. State Department and Defense Department intend to implement a joint three-year, $40 million program for the Philippines under the Global Security Contingency Fund. The program will be used to improve maritime security and maritime domain awareness, and to provide assistance for law enforcement counterterrorism capacity.

Earlier while visiting Vietnam, Kerry announced a $32.5 million assistance package to help Southeast Asian nations protect their territorial waters. Vietnam will receive up to $18 million to provide the Vietnamese Coast Guard with five new fast patrol boats.

The United States also supports efforts to reduce tensions surrounding territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea, Kerry said. In that regard, the United States supports efforts by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to move quickly to conclude a code of conduct as a crucial means of reducing the risk of accidents or miscalculation in the area, he said.

“We think that claimants have a responsibility to clarify their claims and to align their claims with international law,” Kerry said. “That is the way to proceed in resolving any disputes over the South China Sea — peacefully, and with international law.”

 


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Posted 2013-12-18 10:27:00