Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano meets with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Thursday.
AP
Cayetano, Pompeo discuss South China Sea in Washington
Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here on Thursday to discuss regional issues such as the South China Sea, counterterrorism and North Korea.

A US official said during the meeting at the State Department, Pompeo and Cayetano also explored opportunities to enhance bilateral trade, increase security cooperation and strengthen people-to-people ties between their countries.

Pompeo reaffirmed the longstanding Philippine-US alliance, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. “Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Cayetano also explored opportunities to enhance bilateral trade, increase security cooperation and strengthen people-to-people ties between our two countries,” she said.

From the State Department, Cayetano accompanied National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. to the White House for talks with Esperon’s counterpart John Bolton.

“Our meeting with Ambassador Bolton provided us with an opportunity to discuss how we could work together to further strengthen our security alliance,” said Philippine Ambassador to Washington Jose Manuel Romualdez, who was also present. 

“Secretary Cayetano and Secretary Pompeo had an open and cordial interaction at the State Department today and we are optimistic this would reinforce the ties that bind the relations between our two countries and peoples,” Romualdez said in a statement.

The ambassador said Esperon expressed Manila’s gratitude for the assistance Washington extended during last year’s terrorist siege of Marawi and its commitment to contribute to the rehabilitation of the city.

The Philippines and the US reaffirmed their partnership and agreed to strengthen people-to-people ties and defense alliance during the first meeting of their top diplomats in Washington on Thursday.

The meeting of the Philippine and US officials came amid criticisms over the Duterte administration’s apparent kid-glove treatment of China over its continued militarization of the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea.

According to Romualdez, Cayetano also discussed with his counterpart the independent foreign policy of the Duterte administration and its positions on such issues as the South China Sea and the Korean Peninsula.

“The Secretary told Secretary Pompeo the Philippines views the current developments in the Korean peninsula with optimism and that the Philippines is hoping the positive momentum generated by the Singapore Summit will bode well for the broader Asia-Pacific region,” Romualdez said. – With Helen Flores

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