Philippines, US Agree To Strengthen Alliance Through Greater Cooperation

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Following a meeting between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Malacaang on Thursday, the Philippines and the US reiterated their resolve to enhance their relationship in many areas of common interest.

According to a Palace statement, President Duterte and Secretary Austin had “an open and honest discussion” on the status and future direction of Philippines-US cooperation during the US defense secretary’s 75-minute courtesy call on the President.

According to a Palace statement, President Duterte and Secretary Austin had “an open and honest discussion” on the status and future direction of Philippines-US cooperation during the US defense secretary’s 75-minute courtesy call on the President.

“They agreed that the alliance can be strengthened further through improved communication and cooperation, particularly in the areas of pandemic response, combating transnational crimes, including the war on illegal drugs, maritime domain awareness, the rule of law, and trade and investment,” according to the statement.

The President thanked the US government for its help in the country’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, notably for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations via the COVAX vaccine sharing program, to which the US is the largest contributor.

So far, the Philippines has received almost 3 million vaccination doses through a World Health Organization-led facility.

Secretary Austin, for his part, expressed deep admiration for the Filipino people, emphasizing America’s commitment to build a strong relationship with the Philippines as an equal sovereign partner.

During the encounter, Austin delivered US President Joe Biden’s pleasantries to the Filipino leader, with the President likewise wishing his US counterpart well.

The US defense chief’s official visit to Manila from July 29 to 30 coincides with the 75th Anniversary of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the United States and the Philippines, as well as the 70th Anniversary of the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty.

Austin is expected to meet with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. in addition to the President.

Austin’s meeting with the President is a first for a Biden administration Cabinet member.

Prior to visiting the Philippines, the US defense secretary visited Singapore and Vietnam as part of a tour aimed at strengthening ties with Southeast Asian countries.

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