United States Secretary of State John Kerry meets the Philippine’s President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila to discuss new administration’s priority programs and to push bilateral dialogues between China over maritime disputes.
Kerry is the first US Cabinet member to pay courtesy visit President Duterte following the leader’s election victory in May and after a meeting of foreign ministers from Southeast Asian nations in Laos this week.
“We are going to hear about (Duterte’s) priorities, we’re going to get to know him,” Sec. Kerry said ahead of the meeting. “We’re going to discuss how we can work together and where we want to focus.”
Duterte will host the US delegation spearheaded by Kerry at the presidential palace in Manila for a working lunch meeting, while Kerry called the opportunity to talk with newly-elected Filipino leader as a way of giving importance to the relationship of the Philippines and the US.
The US Secretary said in an interview that he supported the resumption of talks between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea following Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling against Beijing over the dispute.
In Vientiane meeting of ASEAN leaders, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi asked Kerry to lend his support for bilateral talks between Beijing and Manila in resolving the accelerating tension amid the territorial claims.
“I expect the conversation to include more exploration on the question of what a constructive, positive and peaceful and lawful path forward looks like,” said in a press briefing in Laos.
China has refused to accept and recognized the July 12 ruling by the International Tribunal, based in The Hague, where in the Philippines won over the giant nation.
The Chinese government repeatedly said through it Foreign Ministry Office, that it will not accept any decision from the court, for which they believe the latter has no jurisdiction over the case.
The Philippines is one of the oldest U.S. allies in Asia, and hosted permanent U.S. military bases until 1992. The ties only ended up after Manila’s Senate decided to evict U.S. troops in 1991.
But the relationship of the two nations never ended, following different deals in the past that keeps the ties holding the two countries such as Visiting Forces Agreement and Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.