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U.S. State Secretary Kerry Reaffirms Close Bilateral Ties and Cooperation with the New Duterte Administration

MANILA, PHILIPPINES – On July 27, 2016, Secretary John Kerry met and congratulated newly-elected President Rodrigo R. Duterte at a working luncheon held at the President’s official residence, Bahay ng Pagbabago (House of Change). In his readout, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner stated that they discussed bilateral and regional issues that underpin U.S.-Philippines relations, including the recent decision by the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea, security and defense cooperation, law enforcement assistance, human rights, countering violent extremism, economic development and climate change.

Prior to meeting President Duterte Secretary Kerry met with Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay. Secretary Kerry remarked, “We view you as a partner … that means an equal voice, an equal discussion, and our relationship obviously is historic in terms of people-to-people ties that form the foundation of the very, very close bilateral relationship. And it’s built on strong economic ties, on strong cultural ties, and also on our societal ties.”

Kerry Sec Yasay Meet, July 2016

US State Secretary John Kerry and PH Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay at the joint press conference after bilateral talks. Photo credit: US State Department.

At the press conference after their meeting, Secretary Kerry referred to his visit to the Philippines in 1986 as an observer during the snap election. Secretary Kerry continued, “Today, this nation is a model of democracy. The election that was held here in May was open and transparent, it offered a real choice, and the voters flocked to the polls – a turnout of more than 80 percent. That is exactly what democracy is all about, and I congratulate the Filipino people.”

He cited the purpose of his visit to reaffirm “the value that the United States places on the alliance and the true friendship and relationship that we have with the people of this country.”  Regarding the recent Arbitration Ruling that the Secretary viewed as binding, he urged “all the claimants to exercise restraint and to work to reduce tensions; not to look for confrontation…but for a solution.” He also discussed the importance of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Read more.

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