Obama leaves Manila with reaffirmed support for PH in sea row
United States President Barack Obama left Manila on Friday after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, where he reaffirmed the United States’ support to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations in territorial disputes with powerhouse China.
Obama departed from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport around 12:10 p.m.
Though not the main focus of the Apec gathering, which was meant to forge unity on trade issues among the 21-member economies, talks on sea row with China had eclipsed the summit, which was attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Openly voicing out his concerns, Obama told China to stop building artificial islands in the hotly contested South China Sea.
Obama on Tuesday visited the Philippine warship BRP Gregorio del Pilar, once a US Coast Guard Cutter for about four decades which was acquired by the Philippines through the Excess Defense Articles program. It was after his tour when he announced that more than $250 million in maritime aid would be given to US allies in the region, including two warships for the Philippines—one research vessel and another US Coast Guard Cutter.
Obama and President Benigno Aquino III met on the sidelines of the summit and agreed to take “bold steps” to ease tensions caused by China’s giant land reclamation efforts.
“We discussed the impact of China’s land reclamation and construction activities on regional stability,” Obama said in a press briefing after meeting with Aquino.
“We agree on the need for bold steps to lower tensions, including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas,” he added.
Obama also served as moderator in a panel discussion with Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Aisa Mijeno, a Filipino woman who co-founded a start-up that created saltwater-powered lamps.
He introduced Mijeno to the audience and called the idea behind Sustainable Alternative Lighting (SALt) as “brilliant.” CDG
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