"The Philippines and the United States are longstanding allies," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said after her recent meeting with Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario. This year the two countries, which consult on a range of issues, celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.
The Philippines is an important partner in America's efforts to elevate its engagement with the Association of South East Asian Nations, as well as in U.S. participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit.
Secretary Clinton commended the Philippines for outstanding efforts to reduce poverty and fight corruption. The Philippines is one of only four countries to be invited to participate in the Partnership for Growth, which will bring together experts to identify the biggest barriers to economic growth and find ways to overcome them. The U.S. and the Philippines are also working through the $434 million Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact to reduce poverty and spark economic growth.
In addition, the Philippines is playing a high-profile role in the Open Government Partnership, a U.S. priority to improve governance and transparency.
They also discussed recent events in the South China Sea. Secretary Clinton said, "We urge all sides to exercise self-restraint, and we will continue to consult closely with all countries involved, including our treaty ally, the Philippines. ... The United States has a national interest in freedom of navigation, respect for international law, and unimpeded, lawful commerce," she said.
"The United States does not take sides on territorial disputes over land features in the South China Sea, but we oppose the use of force or threat of force to advance the claims of any party." She continued, "We support a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants to resolve their disputes. We believe governments should pursue their territorial claims and accompanying rights to maritime space in accordance with customary international law, as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention."
The U.S. supports the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and encourages the parties to reach agreement on a full Code of Conduct.
Secretary Clinton concluded, "Whether we are working together to combat extremism, help victims of natural disaster, or stand up for human rights, the people of our countries share a vision of a better world and a mutual desire to take action."