Obama, Aquino to sustain countries' bond

June 8, 2012 at 4:37 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- The United States and the Philippines plan to maintain their long relationship on economic and strategic issues of mutual interest, President Obama said Friday.

Obama met with Philippines President Benigno Aquino III in Washington, discussing security issues, people-to-people exchanges and Aquino's efforts to stamp out corruption.

"We continue to consult closely together, engaging in framing together work on a range of regional issues together, all of which is consistent with the announced pivot by the United States back to Asia and reminding everybody that in fact the United States considers itself and is a Pacific power," Obama said during a media availability.

Aquino said the two countries enjoy "a shared history, shared values. ... This meeting has really deepened a very long relationship."

The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region and to the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty, the White House said in a readout of the bilateral meeting.

Obama reaffirmed U.S. support for Philippine efforts to build a credible defense posture, as well as agreed to build on the countries' successful security cooperation on counterterrorism.

Obama and Aquino both recognized the importance of a strong economic relationship for both countries and committed to bolster and deepen bilateral trade and promote greater trade and economic opportunities in the Asia Pacific, the White House said.

Obama expressed support for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' efforts to reach agreement with China on a code of conduct for the South China Sea. The sides are working to create a rules-based framework for managing and regulating the conduct of parties, including preventing and managing disputes concerning the resources-rich waterway, which is claimed wholly or partially by China and five other countries.

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