US, PH reaffirms commitment to mutual defense

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The governments of Philippines and the United States (US) reaffirmed their commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, as they discussed actions to invigorate and expand their partnership in the spirit of the November 2011 Manila Declaration.

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Both sides, at the conclusion of the 4th Philippines-US Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held on March 6 to 7, 2014 in Washington D.C. vowed to expand cooperation in maritime domain awareness, disaster response preparedness, law enforcement, and nonproliferation.

Both panels also welcomed the current negotiations on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and expressed optimism for a successful conclusion.

In light of lessons learned in working together in areas affected by Haiyan/Yolanda, both countries resolved to strengthen their joint cooperation and training in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The two sides expressed concern over recent developments in the South China Sea, and emphasized the importance of upholding peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce, and freedom of navigation and overflight. The two sides reiterated that international disputes in the South China Sea should be settled in accordance with international law and through diplomatic or other peaceful means, such as through the use of arbitration.

The two sides expressed concern over the ambiguity and potential breadth of some claims and agreed on the importance of all claimants clarifying their territorial and maritime claims. They underscored that maritime claims in the South China Sea must be derived from land features in accordance with the international law of the sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

The Philippines expressed its appreciation for assistance to be provided under the Global Security Contingency Fund, which focuses on Philippine maritime security, law enforcement, and counterterrorism training and capacity building.

Both sides reaffirmed their steadfast support for United Nations peacekeeping operations.
The meeting recognized the Philippine government efforts and achievement in the protection of labor rights and improvement of aviation safety.

The two sides discussed cooperative activities in the area of law enforcement, including combating money laundering and cybercrime, anticorruption, and the rule of law in the Philippines. The meeting also acknowledged Philippine government efforts to promote and protect human rights and prevent trafficking in persons, and recognized Philippine government steps to increase prosecutions and to enhance measures addressing human rights issues.

The dialogue was co-chaired by Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Evan Garcia and Undersecretary of National Defense Pio Lorenzo Batino for the Philippines and by Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Kelly Magsamen for the United States.

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