FULL TEXT: Obama on South China Sea, defense alliance with Philippines


MANILA, Philippines - United States President Barack Obama met with President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday to improve the defense alliance between the two nations.

In his speech after his bilateral meeting with Aquino in Sofitel, Obama renewed his country's commitment to defend its Asian ally.

Obama tackled the West Philippine Sea dispute and reiterated that the territorial row with China should be resolved peacefully.

He also mentioned climate change and the Trans-Pacific Partnership initiated by the US.

Here's the full text of Obama's speech after meeting with Aquino:

Thank you very much, President Aquino, for your warm welcome. It is wonderful to be back in the Philippines. I have very fond memories in my state visit last year, and once again I can feel the friendship and hospitality of the Filipino people, so salamat.

We are here as President Aquino and the Philippines host the APEC Summit and this is a reflection of Filipino leadership. Mr. President, I especially want to commend you for this summit’s focus on growth that is inclusive and sustainable and that helps lift up small businesses and empowers more women.

Of course, the Philippines and the United States are great allies, so this is an occasion of me to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the security and defense of the Philippines. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder: “balikatan.” I am grateful for my partnership with President Aquino who has been a valuable and trusted friend to the United States.

Here in the Philippines, you are pursuing reforms and good governance; together, we support a rule-based order in the region, which is critical to regional security and the global economy. Now, our rebalance to the Asia Pacific is rooted in our treaty alliances including with the Philippines. Our Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement when implemented will bring our militaries even closer together, and we are especially committed to ensuring maritime security in the region, including freedom of navigation.

During my visit yesterday with members of the Filipino Armed Forces I was able to announce that we are increasing our maritime security assistance to the Philippines to record levels, including two new vessels. We discussed the impact of China’s reclamation and construction activities on regional stability. We agreed on the need for bold steps to lower tensions including pledging to halt further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas in the South China Sea.

As President Aquino indicated, disputes need to be resolved peacefully, that’s why the United States support the Philippines’ decision to use arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to peacefully and lawfully address differences.

We also had a chance to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is a pillar of America’s rebalance in the region. We welcome the Philippines’ interest in TPP and we have directed our Trade Ministers to have discussions about how TPP is going to be implemented among the original 12 countries and how we can work with the Philippines to follow through on their interest. TPP is designed to be an open and inclusive trade pact for countries that can meet its high standards.

And finally, we discussed the urgent challenge of climate change, a threat to which the Philippines is especially vulnerable. I appreciate the contribution that President Aquino has made in climate talks over the last year. The Philippines has recognized the importance of a global agreement for the future of this country and the world and we look forward to a successful outcome in Paris.

So again, Mr. President, thank you so much for your welcome and your leadership of the APEC Summit, and thank you to the Filipino people for their friendship and hospitality.

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