Kerry tackles sea row in Manila visit

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United States (US) Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with key business leaders on the first day of official visit in Manila today.

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Kerry will also be meeting Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and discuss ways to improve and strengthen the relations between Manila and Washington.

The US Embassy in Manila said Kerry will be meeting with business leaders as a way of thanking the private sector for its help for the survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda.

He will take up with del Rosario the territorial issues in West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), particularly maritime domain awareness, the bringing of the case before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (Itlos) and what the US military is doing in the region.

A US official said the two will not talk about reestablishing military bases in the country, since it is not part of Washington’s agenda to ensure freedom of navigation and commerce in the West Philippine Sea, a vital maritime route.

Kerry’s visit begins with a wreath laying ceremony at the Manila American Memorial and Cemetery, which holds the biggest number of graves of American soldiers killed in World War II.

Kerry will then proceed to Makati City to meet business leaders.

A banquet will be held in his honor tonight. President Benigno Aquino 3rd will meet the official there.

On Wednesday, Kerry will meet with the American community, some survivors of Typhoon Yolanda and aid workers and government officials.

He is scheduled to fly to Tacloban City, which bore the brunt of Yolanda’s fury. In Tacloban, Kerry will assess the US contributions in terms of humanitarian and relief operations, and plan his country’s commitment in the long-term reconstruction plan for the city and other typhoon-affected areas.

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