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US Air Force chief eyes deeper ties with PAF

/ 03:59 PM August 19, 2011

CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—The chief of staff of the United States Air Force visited this former American military air base on Thursday for what he called “deepening of partnership” with the Philippine Air Force.

General Norton Schwartz was the first USAF chief of staff to visit Clark after American forces left their military bases in the Philippines 20 years ago.

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Clark, the Subic Bay Naval Base and several other US military facilities in the Philippines were closed down after the Senate’s rejection of the extension of the 1947 Philippine-US Military Bases Agreement on September 16, 1991.

on the first day of Schwartz’s three-day official visit to the Philippines, he held meetings and dialogues with officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and met with Lieutenant General Oscar Ravena, PAF chief, at the  Villamor Air Base, the US Embassy said without giving details of what was discussed.

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The PAF gave no details either.

On Thursday, Schwartz met with Major General Ricardo Banayat, head of the PAF’s First Air Division here for “military capability demonstrations and briefings.”

The USAF official and his wife also visited the Clark Cemetery inside the free port to pay their respects to American and Filipino veterans buried there.

This was not Schwartz’s first time in Clark, the US Embassy statement said. He served as C-130 E aircraft commander with the USAF 776th and 21st tactical airlift squadrons from 1975 to 1977.

“The visit by General Schwartz demonstrates the United States’ willingness to strengthen the partnership and dialogue between the US Air Force and the [PAF], building on the already strong diplomatic ties between our two countries,” the US Embassy statement said.

“We hope that the US Air Force and the [PAF] will deepen our partnership by demonstrating mutual assurance of support, and by developing and expanding our ongoing training and military-to-military exchange programs,” the embassy statement quoted Schwartz as saying.

The visit came four months after American Senators Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Thad Cochran of Mississippi, both members of the US Congress committee on appropriations, visited the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, formerly a US military airport, in Clark.

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The two senators also checked out developments at the Subic Bay Freeport, which was carved out of the former Subic Bay Naval Base.

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TAGS: Features, Foreign affairs, Military, US Air Force, US Military Bases, Visiting Forces Agreement
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