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Philippines, US seek to preserve free, open Indo-Pacific

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Philippines, US seek to preserve free, open Indo-Pacific
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Sherman also met with Marcos’ advisers, including Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, incoming executive secretary Vic Rodriguez, and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro during her visit to the country.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met yesterday with president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to discuss new ways to deepen the bilateral US-Philippines alliance and highlighted the importance of fostering respect for human rights and rule of law.

In a readout, the US Department of State said the number-two diplomat met with both outgoing and incoming administrations to reaffirm US commitment to the bilateral alliance and a free and open Indo-Pacific.

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Sherman also met with Marcos’ advisers, including Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez, incoming executive secretary Vic Rodriguez, and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Theresa Lazaro during her visit to the country.

Sherman, the highest ranking State Department official to come to the Philippines since the pandemic, congratulated Marcos on his election.

“I was pleased to meet and congratulate President-elect Marcos. We discussed strengthening our longstanding alliance, expanding people-to-people ties, deepening our economic relationship, advancing human rights, and preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Sherman said on Twitter.

In a readout of Sherman’s meeting, Price said Marcos and the deputy secretary agreed on the importance of working together to strengthen the economies, particularly public-private partnerships, clean energy and digital economy.

He said Sherman and Marcos highlighted the importance of the US-Philippine alliance to security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and the world and the importance of fostering respect for “human rights and rule of law in the Philippines.”

“They discussed opportunities for our two nations to deepen our alliance and friendship and seize new opportunities to deliver for our people in the years to come,” Price said.

Sherman was also at the Department of Foreign Affairs for a courtesy call on Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

During the meeting, Sherman conveyed gratitude for Locsin’s commitment and contributions to the alliance and rules-based international order.

They spoke about maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, and also discussed Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its global ramifications.

The State Department announced Sherman’s travel to the region that reflects the US continued commitment to the Indo-Pacific and follows the US-ASEAN Special Summit, President Biden’s visit to South Korea and Japan, the Quad Leaders’ Summit in Tokyo, and the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

Reinvigorating its partnership with ASEAN, the US hosted last month the US-ASEAN Summit to take on urgent issues.

The Philippines highlighted the US role for peace and stability in Southeast Asia as Manila welcomed the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, placing Southeast Asia at the center of the regional security architecture.

The US, Manila’s most vocal partner in reaffirming the 2016 arbitral award, has said it will continue to stand by the historic South China Sea ruling.

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