Friday, April 15, 2016

Pres. Aquino meets with U.S. Defense Chief during courtesy call in Palace

President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday (April 14) met with US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter during a courtesy call in Malacañang Palace.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Foreign Affairs Secretary Jose Rene Almendras joined President Aquino during his meeting with Carter.

The American defense chief, who arrived in the country on Wednesday, was accompanied by US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg; Ambassador David Shear, US assistant secretary of defense; Eric Rosenbach, the defense secretary’s chief of staff; Brig. Gen. Eric Smith, senior military assistant to the defense secretary; and Peter Cook, Pentagon Press Secretary and chief spokesman for the Department of Defense.

Also present on the Philippines’ side were Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, Department of National Defense; Undersecretary Emmanuel Bautista of the Cabinet Cluster on Security, Justice and Peace; Gen. Hernando Iriberri, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia, Jr.

During a joint press conference with Secretary Gazmin in Malacañang, Carter announced the conduct of joint patrols between US and Filipino forces in Philippine territories, especially in the South China Sea.

The joint patrols will involve the two countries' navies and air forces, according to Carter.

Carter also said that some members of the US military participating in the ongoing Balikatan exercises will be left behind in selected Philippine bases to improve interoperability of both forces and enhance the capability of Filipino forces, both in conflict readiness and disaster response, as well as during accidents.  (PCOO News Release)

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