By Camille A. Aguinaldo
FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and United States Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo reaffirmed the Philippines-US alliance when they met for the first time on Thursday, June 21, at the US State Department in Washington D.C.
In a statement, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said Mr. Pompeo expressed the hope that President Rodrigo R. Duterte and US President Donald J. Trump would meet again as a follow-up to the bilateral talks during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit last November in Manila.
He added that Mr. Cayetano also delivered a personal letter from Mr. Duterte congratulating Mr. Trump for the recently concluded summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore.
The two diplomats also discussed the Philippines’ foreign policy and its position on such issues as the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula, Mr. Romualdez also said.
“Secretary Cayetano and Secretary Pompeo had an open and cordial interaction at the State Department today and we are optimistic this would reinforce the ties that bind the relations between our two countries and peoples,” he said.
In a statement, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Messrs. Cayetano and Pompeo also “explored opportunities to enhance bilateral trade, increase security cooperation, and strengthen people-to-people ties.”
Mr. Cayetano was accompanied in the meeting by National Security Adviser Hermogenes C. Esperon, Jr., Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Ma. Lumen Isleta of the Office of American Affairs, and Mr. Romualdez
The two officials also reaffirmed security ties on Thursday following Mr. Esperon’s meeting with his American counterpart, John R. Bolton.
“Our meeting with Ambassador Bolton provided us with an opportunity to discuss how we could work together to further strengthen our security alliance,” Mr. Romualdez said in a separate statement.
According to the Ambassador, Messrs. Esperon and Bolton discussed issues related to terrorism and other regional concerns, such as the situation in South China Sea. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also said Manila expressed gratitude for Washington’s assistance during the Marawi siege last year and on rehabilitation efforts in the city.
The DFA noted that it was the first time Mr. Bolton met with top Filipino officials since his appointment as National Security Adviser in April.