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Marcos calls the US 'our partner, our ally and our friend'

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com

NEW YORK, United States (Update 2, 5:19 p.m.) — Our partner, our ally and our friend.

Those were the words used by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to describe the US before his American counterpart Joe Biden, who in turn, affirmed the "ironclad" ties between Manila and Washington during their first in-person meeting last Thursday.

Speaking to Biden on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Marcos said the longstanding relationship between the Philippines and US continues to evolve as they face the challenges of the new century. But the role of the US in maintaining peace in the region is "much appreciated" by all the countries in the region, especially the Philippines, he added.

"We continue to look to the United States for that continuing partnership and the maintenance of peace in our region. In terms of the geopolitical issues that we face in this day and age, the primary consideration of the Philippines and the guiding principle of the Philippine foreign policy is to encourage peace," Marcos said.

According to Marcos, Filipinos feel that they are especially fortunate because they have a "very strong foundation of a very long relationship" and strong relationships on various facets such as in politics, diplomacy and the economy.

"We are your partners, we are your allies, we are your friends. And in like fashion, we have always considered the United States our partner, our ally and our friend," he said.

Biden said the relationship between the US and the Philippines has very deep roots and that such an alliance has strengthened both countries.  

"We’ve had some rocky times but the fact is it’s a critical, critical relationship from our perspective. I hope you feel the same way," Biden told Marcos.

"And we have strong ties including millions of Filipino-Americans, who are very proud of their ancestry and desperately want us to continue to have a strong relationship," he added.

Earlier this week, Marcos said he could not imagine the future of the Philippines without the US as a partner.  

Ironclad

A White House statement said Biden "reaffirmed the United States’ ironclad commitment to the defense of the Philippines" during the meeting.

"The leaders discussed the situation in the South China Sea and underscored their support for freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful resolution of disputes," it added.

China, widely seen to be a rival of the US, claims virtually the entire South China Sea on historical grounds and has occupied some of the disputed areas, including those that are being claimed by the Philippines. The US has been criticizing China's actions in the resource-rich area but Chinese officials insist Washington should not meddle in the maritime dispute.

In 2016, an arbitral tribunal in Hague ruled that China's expansive claim in the South China Sea has no legal basis but the Chinese government refused to recognize the ruling.

Other matters

The White House said the two leaders discussed opportunities to expand bilateral cooperation on a wide range of issues, including energy security, climate action, and infrastructure. They also talked about Association of Southeast Asian Nations matters, the crisis in Myanmar, and the importance of respect for human rights.

Also tackled was Russia’s war against Ukraine and its implications for energy prices and food security.

Biden thanked Marcos for his position on the war between Ukraine and Russia and how it’s impacting energy prices and food prices. According to a Malacañang statement, Biden noted that the Philippines was one of the US allies to quickly condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Asked to elaborate on Marcos' stand on the Ukraine conflict, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said the president continues the policy of the previous administration that the Philippines would be a "friend to all" and "an enemy to none."

Marcos also thanked the US for assisting the Philippines in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for providing almost 36 million doses of vaccines.

After the meeting, Marcos and Biden touted the deep ties between their countries in their respective social media accounts.  

"We are optimistic that we can further strengthen our alliance as we work together towards improving the quality of life for both our peoples," Marcos said in a Facebook post.  

Biden, for his part, tweeted that the two nations' relationship is rooted in democracy, common history, and people-to-people ties, including millions of Filipino-Americans who enrich the US.
 
"Our alliance is strong and enduring," he added. 

Angeles said Biden only spoke with Marcos on the sidelines of UNGA.

"I understand a lot of requests have been made to the US president - that it is significant that he spoke only with President Marcos on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly," Angeles said at a press briefing.

However, the White House issued press statements stating that Biden also met with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and British Prime Minister Liz Truss on the sidelines of the UNGA.

"While it’s true he spoke with one other person, that was a postponed meeting. And so although more it becomes significant that President Marcos has been able to speak with the US President," she added.

Angeles said Biden's decision to meet only with Marcos may have been due to the significance of the matters to be discussed.

"We are treaty allies and economic partners. So those are facts," the press secretary added.

Clarification

But Angeles insisted that only the request of Marcos to meet with Biden on the sidelines of UNGA was granted.

"Marami pong ibang nakiusap nguni’t ang napagbigyan lamang ay ang kahilingan ng bansang Pilipinas. Kung kaya’t kita ang kahalagahan ng miting na ito ng dalawang lider (Many requested but only the Philippines was accommodated. That is why the importance of this meeting to the two leaders is evident)," Angeles said in a statement.

"Ang ibang mga meeting ni Pangulong Biden ay mga dati nang napagkasunduan, pero na postpone at itinuloy na lamang sa pagkakataon na ito. Ipagpaunmanhin nawa ang kaunting kalituhan sa naunang statement (The other meetings of President Biden were scheduled previously but were postponed and they only pushed through this time. I apologize for the slight confusion caused by the previous statement)," she added.

BONGBONG MARCOS

JOE BIDEN

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