MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama on June 8. It would be their fourth meeting in a span of two years, but the first one to be held at the Oval Office in the White House.
The two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest, according to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Patricia Ann V. Paez.
“In their meeting at the Oval Office, the two leaders are expected to discuss a wide range of issues of mutual interest. These include our close strategic, economic, and people-to-people ties and our cooperation in the Asia Pacific region as the US refocuses in the Asia Pacific characterized by economic dynamism as well as fresh challenges,” Paez said.
Speaking in Iloilo, President Aquino said he may discuss with Obama the “general” situation in the West Philippine Sea.
“Pag-uusapan ‘yung kondisyon sa West Philippine Sea. I assume that when I visit the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron will also inquire us to the status. It is a body of water where quite a substantial amount of world trade has to pass through. So it’s a matter of concern for everybody. If things will change that will restrict the free flow of goods and services amongst these particular body of water,” Aquino told reporters.
PNoy's development agenda
Paez said Obama is also interested to get updates from Aquino regarding the Philippine leader’s “development agenda.”
“President Obama has also expressed interest in being updated about President Aquino’s vision for the Philippines and his development agenda specifically to promote inclusive growth, create equal opportunities for all, and foster good governance,” she said.
Aquino first met with Obama in September 2010 during the ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting in New York, followed by a meeting in September 2011 in New York during the launching of the Open Government partnership and another meeting in November 2011 during the ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia.
Aquino will visit the United States from June 6 to 8, upon Obama’s invitation. The invitation was first conveyed to Aquino when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Manila in November 2011.
Paez said Aquino’s visit to Washington, D.C. “reflects the heightened engagement between our two countries,” following a series of high-level engagements.
Among these are:
- the first bilateral strategic dialogue in Manila in January 2011;
- the second bilateral strategic dialogue in Washington, D.C. in January 2012;
- visits of four top-level congressional delegations in 2011 and 2012; and,
- the first two-plus-two meeting between the Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Defense of the two countries held last April in Washington, D.C.
The Philippines is also the country coordinator for the ASEAN-US dialogue partnership.
In Washington, Secretary Clinton will host a luncheon in honor of Aquino and his delegation. Aquino is also scheduled to meet with leaders of the US Senate at a reception to be hosted by Senate President Pro-Tempore Daniel Inouye at the US Capitol.
“Senator Inouye has been the champion of Philippine interest in the US Congress and has manifested steadfast support for the Philippines as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Paez said.
WSJ, Washington Post interviews
President Aquino will also meet with US businessmen while in Washington.
He will also attend the launching of the US-Philippine Society, which aims “to provide information on the Philippines to US policy makers; convey to the Philippine government objective feedback on perceptions in the US regarding the country; and to undertake partnership programs with NGOs and other institutions to increase public exposure to Philippine issues.”
The President has scheduled interviews with the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Before leaving for Manila, Aquino will stop by Los Angeles, California to meet with the Filipino-American community.
“There are about 322,110 Filipinos who reside in the county of Los Angeles comprising 3.1 percent of the city’s population,” Paez said.