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President Duterte meets with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a courtesy call on President Duterte Thursday night at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay.

The meeting lasted for nearly an hour.

Malacanang said earlier this week that Duterte and Pompeo will likely discuss issues on security and terrorism as well as PH-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) since 1951.

It was the US government which requested the meeting.

US ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said in a tweet that Duterte and Pompeo had a 'productive meeting' to strengthen ties of two countries. 'It was my privilege to join @SecPompeo for a very productive meeting with President Duterte, reaffirming the U.S.-Philippines relationship as #FriendsPartnersAllies.'

Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said earlier that Pompeo will also discuss what happened during the Hanoi summit attended by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pompeo will also be meeting Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. tomorrow to discuss issues of mutual interest.

Last December, the Department of National Defense said it is high time for both sides to look into the MDT's provisions given the continuing disputes in the South China Sea.

In moving for the review, the Philippines' defense department wanted Washington's definitive stand on whether Manila could count on its ally's support in case of a confrontation with outside forces in the nine islets and features that it occupies or claims in the West Philippine Sea.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana also hinted that the islets and shoals should be covered by the treaty, which, on one hand, obligates the US to militarily come to the aid of the country once it is attacked by the other states.

While the country has occupied or claimed the islets and shoals in the West Philippine Sea, its claims are being challenged aggressively, specifically by China, which has already built fortified bases on its man-made islets in the South China Sea.

Lorenzana has also said the review is needed in order for the country to make its alliance with the US stronger, 'because it is the only country we have an alliance with.'

This comes as the Duterte administration has sought warmer relations with China despite the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea, which Manila raised in 2013 before a United Nations arbitral tribunal, where it got a favorable ruling.

Although the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration issued a landmark decision in 2016 invalidating China's 'excessive' claims to the West Philippine Sea, China has opted not to recognize the arbitral ruling.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:0PACI
Date:Feb 28, 2019
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