Senior US Pacific Command official pays Aquino a visit-A A +A
Monday, July 16, 2012
MANILA -- Visiting United States Pacific Command commander Admiral Samuel Locklear arrived in Malacañang on Monday for a scheduled courtesy call before President Benigno Aquino III.
Presidential Communications and Strategic Planning Secretary Ramon Carandang, who was present during the courtesy call, said Locklear's visit aimed to reaffirm long standing partnership between the United States and the Philippines.
He said Locklear reiterated the US government's support for the Philippine efforts to build a minimum credible defense posture.
"The minimum credible defense posture is something that we wanted to do since we came in office. Before we had issues with China, the President has always said that we need to develop a minimum defense credible posture. I think that has been consistent whether or not we have had issues with China that was indeed has been recognized from day one of the administration," Carandang said.
He said there was no specific discussion on the West Philippines Sea issue and was only touched in "broad strokes."
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, meanwhile, said there will be an "in-depth" discussion between Locklear and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario regarding the territorial dispute at a meeting Monday afternoon.
Other officials present in the meeting were US ambassador to Philippines Harry Thomas, del Rosario and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa.
Locklear arrived in Manila for a three-day visit from July 15 to 17.
He visited Manila amid worsening tensions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) after Southeast Asian diplomats failed to reach a common ground on how to deal territorial dispute involving China.
The Philippines is also in the middle of investigation into the Chinese frigate that ran aground at Hasa-hasa shoal off Palawan.
Locklear is paying his first visit in Manila since taking command at US Pacific Command in March.
In his interview before going to Manila, he said he is looking forward to building on the historic US-Philippine bilateral defense relationship that marked its 60th anniversary last year.
He reiterated the US stand not to take sides in territorial disputes and encourages peaceful resolution through international legal processes.
As the senior US military authority in the Pacific Command, Locklear is committed to enhancing stability in the Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies and deterring aggression. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)