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Aquino hails John Kerry assurance of US support

By: - Day Desk Chief / @umichaelNQ
/ 05:52 AM December 19, 2013

President Aquino prepares to sit during the start of the Briefing for the Development Partners of the Philippines on Reconstruction Assistance on Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda) at the Department of Foreign Affairs in suburban Manila on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Aquino said the commitment to the country’s security the United States conveyed through Kerry was “very categorical and very clear.” AP PHOTO/AARON FAVILA

MANILA, Philippines—The renewed US commitment to the security of the Philippines made by US Secretary of State John Kerry is music to President Aquino’s ears.

Besides highlighting the strengthened relations between Washington and Manila, Kerry said during talks with Philippine officials that the United States did not recognize the air defense identification zone imposed by China over the East China Sea, and that America would continue to push for the conclusion of a binding code of conduct between China and Southeast Asian nations in the East Sea and the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

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Kerry left Manila around 2:15 p.m. Wednesday after a two-day visit to the Philippines that allowed him to discuss with the President the broadening of economic and security cooperation between the two countries, and humanitarian assistance to typhoon victims in the Visayas.

Kerry paid a courtesy call on Aquino, who played host to him at dinner in Malacañang on Tuesday.

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Before leaving the country, Kerry traveled to Tacloban City in Leyte, the area worst hit by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” on Nov. 8.

Categorical support

Aquino said the commitment to the country’s security the United States conveyed through Kerry was “very categorical and very clear.”

He said the United States’ support for the Philippines, South Korea and Japan’s position on peacefully resolving maritime disputes with China was a signal that major players in the international arena wanted to deescalate tensions caused by China’s declaration of the East China Sea air zone.

Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, said the issues discussed by Aquino and Kerry during their private meeting were cooperation in economic development, including expanded trade and investment and US assistance in hastening the reconstruction of the communities destroyed by Yolanda.

“They affirmed the two countries’ partnership in promoting stability, the rule of law and preserving freedom of navigation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea),” he said.

Both leaders also clarified points in the framework agreement on rotational presence of US troops in the Philippines that would be fleshed out in continuing bilateral talks.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Diplomacy, John Kerry, Philippines, Supertyphoon Yolanda, US, Yolanda Aid
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