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US seeks 'mutually agreeable' accord with Philippines
Publication Date : 26-03-2014
The United States wants the ongoing defence talks with the Philippines to be concluded “as soon as possible,” but only if the pact were mutually agreeable to both sides with their concerns sufficiently addressed, said the top US diplomat in the Philippines.
Meeting the press at the US Embassy in Manila Tuesday afternoon, Ambassador Philip Goldberg also expressed respect for the opposition to the negotiations but called for constructive criticism, saying that some of the attacks were “almost offensive.”
“There are issues we are discussing that are important and relate to the interests of both countries and we want to get it right so that the people on both sides are pleased and satisfied with the outcome,” said Goldberg, as the seventh round of negotiations on the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement between the two sides opened at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.
During the last round held in Washington earlier this month, Manila gave the United States permission to build structures in Philippine military bases. Upbeat about the conclusion of the talks, the Filipino panel said at the time the agreement was 80-per cent done.
“We all would like to see it, therefore, before President Obama arrives. But that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is an agreement that is mutually beneficial for both countries. So that’s not a timetable, that’s a result of the negotiations,” said Goldberg.
Obama is scheduled to visit the Philippines in April, finally pushing through with his first visit to Manila following a postponement amid the partial US government shutdown in October. The US side has yet to release details of the visit, including the exact date the American president is arriving.
While the agenda for the visit has yet to be announced, Goldberg said trade and mutual defence would most likely be on the table when Obama and President Aquino meet, with new security challenges in the region a matter of mutual concern between the two sides.
“I think there will be a stress on…the new issues we confront together. On the economic side, business, trade and important things that will help in the development here, in our bilateral economic relationship.
And on the security side, whether it’s through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement or whether it’s talking about our shared mutual interests—freedom of navigation, noncoercive behavior, the need to settle disputes as they exist peacefully, legally and diplomatically,” he said.