Goldberg: US committed to PH security

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 04 2015 07:37 AM | Updated as of Jul 04 2015 03:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines - No one should doubt the United States’ commitment to the security of the Philippines, America’s top diplomat in Manila said Thursday night.

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, at the reception for the 239th anniversary of US Independence reiterated that their commitment to defend the Philippines is iron-clad.

"We continue to face the future standing shoulder to shoulder, confident in an alliance that is tried, tested and, as President (Barack) Obama and Secretary of Defense (Ashton) Carter have made clear, is iron-clad. No one should question our commitment to Philippine security," Goldberg added.

The ambassador praised the Philippines for pursuing peaceful, legal and diplomatic means in the South China Sea dispute.

"At the same time, we salute the Philippines for its efforts to solve regional problems peacefully, legally and diplomatically," Goldberg said during the reception, with Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua in attendance.

Not only is the US-Philippine alliance great, it is undergoing great renewal, Goldberg said.

He said July 4 is also an important day in Philippine history because it marks Philippine-American Friendship Day.

"In fact, we are doing more together than at any time in a generation: in assistance, in security and in commerce," Goldberg said in his speech.

“And we’re doing so as the Philippine government works to modernize, fight corruption and provide more equitable growth,” he said.

The Philippines, he said, is both the oldest democracy in Asia and the oldest US ally in the region, and the two countries have stood shoulder to shoulder for more than 70 years.

Goldberg also thanked President Aquino and Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario for their strong and principled leadership on the South China Sea issue.

In an interview with reporters, Goldberg called China’s announcement of its plan to start building military facilities on reclaimed land “disappointing.”

The US and several other countries have expressed concern over China’s reclamation in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea and called on claimant countries to freeze provocative activities.

“You’ve heard from Washington that the announcement that the Chinese made was disappointing because they also talked about building up in those features. And that’s not what I think reduces tension in the region or helps the situation,” Goldberg told reporters.

Washington, he said, would like to see more dialogue and greater adherence to legal and diplomatic and peaceful means to settle claim.

“That’s why we supported the Philippines’ right to take the case to ITLOS to help settle some of the issues surrounding South China Sea,” he said. ITLOS stands for International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. – Pia Lee-Brago

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