US state dep’t exec in Manila for talks
Andrew Shapiro, the United States assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs, is in the country to meet with senior civilian and military officials on enhancing broad defense and security cooperation.
“Shapiro will consult with senior civilian and military officials on further enhancing broad defense and security cooperation for the mutual benefit of the United States and the Philippines, building on consultations from the recent US-Philippines Bilateral Security Dialogue in Washington,” the US Embassy said in a statement Thursday.
Shapiro, who arrived Thursday, will be in the country until Saturday.
Malacañang on Thursday said there will be no meeting between President Benigno Aquino III and Shapiro.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Shapiro will be meeting with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario “to consult on how to further enhance defense and security cooperation, building on the discussions during the Philippine-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Washington, DC last January 26 to 27.”
Del Rosario earlier said that high-level talks between the Philippines and the United States, scheduled for next month, on expanding Washington’s military presence in the country will push through as planned.
The Philippines and the US issued a joint statement last January 27 at the end of their second bilateral strategic dialogue in the US capital, saying they looked forward to “continuing our high-level consultation at a joint ministerial meeting” next March.
At last month’s dialogue, the two allies reaffirmed their “commitment to fulfill the vision of the 2011 Manila Declaration through an invigorated and expanded alliance capable of addressing 21st century challenges.”
They referred to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty as the “basis for the alliance and the treaty’s continued relevance to the peace, security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific.”
They “committed to further enhance cooperation… in security, defense, commerce, law enforcement, human rights, and disaster relief,” as they also “agreed to deepen and broaden our maritime security cooperation.”
Del Rosario earlier said the Philippines would accept an increased US military presence in the country, but emphasized that this would be in accordance with Philippine law, which has banned the basing of foreign troops. With a report from Christine O. Avendaño
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