|US., Philippines United Against Global Terrorism |
US., Philippines United Against Global Terrorism
By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.
Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) November 20, 2001 Â– The leader of the Republic of the Philippines said today that her country and the United States are long-time allies joined together in the fight against global terrorism.
In Washington to see President Bush and other senior U.S. officials, Philippines' President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stopped by the Pentagon to meet with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Afterward, the two leaders met with reporters.
Macapagal-Arroyo told reporters the United States and the Philippines have been partners since World War II. This year, she added, marks the 50th anniversary of a mutual defense pact between the two countries. The Philippines, too, are battling terrorists, in the southwestern part of the country, she noted.
"We have a strategic framework for fighting terrorism, a framework that our officials are discussing with officials of the United States Â… both countries are looking at this framework and looking at where the partnership in fighting terrorism, domestically, regionally and globally can become more effective," she said.
When asked if the Philippines would accept military equipment from the United States to be employed against its terrorists, Macapagal-Arroyo replied: "If that's what is needed to make the partnership more efficient, yes."
Rumsfeld said the United States and the Philippines "have worked together closely from a military standpoint over many, many years" involving training, technical assistance, equipment and cooperative efforts.
He added that the Philippines and the United States have also partnered in peacekeeping efforts in East Timor, formerly a part of Indonesia.
Rumsfeld said that U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Dennis Blair would be meeting with the Philippine defense minister to discuss terrorism issues later this month.
A likely topic of discussion between the two is the Abu Sayet, the Philippines-based international terrorist group that is on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations, a DoD official remarked.
Abu Sayet has reported ties with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization, the DoD official said, and is alleged to have committed kidnapping, hostage taking and murder. "The question is, what are we going to do to help the Philippine military tackle Abu Sayet?" the DoD official said.