Yasay, Kerry agree to boost Philippines-U.S. ties

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr met with his American counterpart, US Secretary of State John Kerry, for the first time since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to cut military and economic ties with the US.  

In a statement, US State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said Yasay and Kerry met on Thursday, November 17, on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Lima, Peru.

"The two agreed on the importance of a strong US-Philippines bilateral relationship and alliance," Toner said. 

He said the two officials "discussed ways to strengthen US-Philippines cooperation on a variety of issues of mutual interest, including counterterrorism, security in the South China Sea, and commercial and economic relations."

"They also exchanged views on the Philippines counternarcotics campaign and human rights," Toner added.

A photo release of the Philippine Office of the President also showed Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez accompanying Yasay in meeting with Kerry on Thursday.

Yasay and Kerry first met in Manila  on July 27. The US official was in the country to meet with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Their meeting on Thursday comes after Duterte, during a trip to Beijing in October, announced his military and economic "separation from the United States."

On October 22, Duterte clarified that his announcement is "not a severance of ties." 

The US reacted by saying that Duterte's controversial statements have created a "climate of uncertainty about the Philippines' intentions." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.