KERRY STRESSES US COMMITMENT TO PH ‘IRONCLAD’

New envoy marks ‘fresh start’ in ties

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Brushing aside “recent differences,” US Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated that the alliance between Manila and Washington remained “ironclad” as he swore in Korean-American diplomat Sung Kim as the new US ambassador to the Philippines.

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MAN IN MANILA Ex-prosecutor Sung Kim is sworn in by US Secretary of State John Kerry as the new US ambassador to the Philippines, during ceremonies in Washington. The Korean-American is the first US envoy to Manila of Asian heritage. Kim promptly bungled his first greeting of ‘Mabuhay’ and was corrected by his Filipino-American audience.  US DEPARTMENT OF STATE PHOTO

MAN IN MANILA Ex-prosecutor Sung Kim is sworn in by US Secretary of State John Kerry as the new US ambassador to the Philippines, during ceremonies in Washington. The Korean-American is the first US envoy to Manila of Asian heritage. Kim promptly bungled his first greeting of ‘Mabuhay’ and was corrected by his Filipino-American audience. US DEPARTMENT OF STATE PHOTO

Without directly addressing the anti-American rhetoric of President Rodrigo Duterte, Kerry on Thursday said: “I am confident about the future of our bilateral relations, notwithstanding a difference here or there about one thing or another.”

Kim faces the tough challenge of mending frayed ties after Duterte ordered a stop to yearly joint exercises between the Philippine and US military forces as well as joint naval patrols in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

The President had a rift with outgoing US envoy Philip Goldberg after the latter hit Duterte’s widely criticized gang-rape rape joke during the election campaign.

Duterte also took issue with Washington’s criticism of his bloody anti-drug war, hurling expletives at Goldberg and US President Barack Obama.

Kerry however said: “We continue to recognize our ironclad commitment to the sovereignty, independence and security of the Philippines.”

Kim said he was “thrilled to have the honor of representing our country in the Philippines, our oldest ally in Asia and one of our most special friends anywhere.”

“The US and the Philippines are and will continue to be close friends, partners and allies,” he added.

The US Embassy noted that the US is one of the largest foreign investors in the Philippines, and is the country’s third largest trading partner. The stock of US foreign direct investment stands at $4.7 billion.

Trade totaled more than $18 billion last year. The US is the largest market for Philippine agricultural and fisheries products exports, with sales topping $1.4 billion in 2014.

Fresh start

The US Senate confirmed Kim’s appointment on September 28 amid Duterte’s tirades.

Charles Jose, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said Manila looked forward to working with Kim in promoting Philippine-US relations.

Present at Kim’s oath-taking were deputy secretary of State Tony Blinken, former US ambassadors to the Philippines Kristie Kenney and Harry Thomas, assistant secretary of State Daniel Russel, and Philippine Chargé d’Affaires to the United States Patrick Chuasoto.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, said Kim faces the
question of “whether the Americans will agree to the change that the President (Duterte) wants.”

But the appointment of a new US envoy, Casiple said, would give the two sides a fresh start.

Kerry said the Philippines and the US should “continue to consult openly and honestly” on important issues, and expressed a desire to visit Manila anew before his terms ends on January 20, 2017.

Kim had been special representative for North Korea policy and deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. He was the US ambassador to South Korea from 2011 to 2014.

He worked as a public prosecutor at the Los Angeles district attorney’s office before joining the State department.

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2 Comments

  1. The cold war is over. There is not much the USA want from RP, a deep water naval base at Subic, or an airbase at Clark. The USA has both at Diego Garcia. There are thousands of US marines in Okinawa, South Korea and Japan. The EDCA is pure theater. The USA does not really treat RP as a real or EQUAL ALLY, more like an IMPOVERISHED DISTANT COUSIN. Give RP some trucks and ammo, good for another year . . If the USA really want to help the RP military it can, but it wouldn’t.
    * PresDute will get the arms and loans when he joins AIIB with PROC to satisfy the demands of the Maoist and Marxist/Leninist insurgents of RP. Everyone will be happy except big, white and debt-ridden Uncle Sam holding his TPP after failing to stick it to RP. Russ Vlad or PROC Xi & Li will cater to PresDute’s military shopping lists. They will give him the tools and machines to make AK 47s or naval patrol boats that the USA has withheld from RP . . Ask Jane (www.janes.com), which is better : M16 or AK 47 ? * The Abus use them AKs down south .
    * Tons of usable naval ships rusted under the sun in the San Francisco Bay area. Hectares of military planes rusted under the sun in the US western states. The USA would only give RP a token ship or plane. That is the kind of ally the USA is to RP. No one can blame PresDute if he moves away from the USA sphere of influence and cozy up to PROC Xi & Li . . .
    * USA will not abandon RP because they have billions of US$ already invested here. There are, Coca-cola, GM, Ford, Chrysler, US Tobacco, Del Monte, DolePhil, Goodrich, and the mining companies. USA INVESTMENTS ON THEIR TERMS . . *That is the only reason USA have not packed up and left RP . . . Canada too, but that is another story . .
    * Cercle Canadien sur les Questions Asiatiques . . . .