Statement Between the United States of America and the Republic of the
May 19, 2003
President George W. Bush today welcomed President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
to the White House on the occasion of her State visit to Washington. The two
leaders discussed the full range of global and bilateral issues and reaffirmed
the depth and breadth of ties between the United States and the Republic of
the Philippines. The Presidents agreed that relations are deeper and warmer
today than at any time in recent history and noted that those ties are rooted
in shared history, shared values, and a common interest in global peace and
prosperity. President Bush and President Macapagal-Arroyo paid tribute to
a revitalized and maturing bilateral alliance and pledged to strengthen the
partnership further in the years ahead.
The two leaders noted with satisfaction that the U.S.-Philippine alliance
continues to play a vital role in ensuring mutual security, as it has since
the signing of the U.S.-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty over 50 years ago.
In recognition of this proud history and continued partnership, the President
announced his intention to designate the Philippines as a Major Non NATO
Ally (MNNA). This step will allow the two countries to work together on military
research and development and give the Philippines greater access to American
defense equipment and supplies. President Bush thanked President Macapagal-Arroyo
for her strong and unequivocal support in the Iraq campaign and expressed
appreciation for the Philippine government's plans to deploy peacekeeping
and medical personnel to assist in Iraq's reconstruction. The two Presidents
reaffirmed their shared commitment to a free Iraq at peace with its neighbors.
The two leaders also agreed that North Korea's nuclear weapons program is
unacceptable and stressed that North Korea's relations with the Asia-Pacific
region hinge on the verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons
President Macapagal-Arroyo expressed the view that the world had changed
on September 11, 2001 and that conflict in Iraq had been another milestone
in the war on terror. She noted that across Asia, there is a growing capability
and readiness to cooperate on maintaining peace and stability in this new
environment, and emphasized that the United States' leadership and strategic
presence in the region are essential for the continuation of this positive
trend. President Bush welcomed this perspective and reiterated that Asia
remains a major focus of U.S. foreign policy.
President Bush praised President Macapagal-Arroyo's leadership and strength
in confronting terrorism in the Philippines and beyond and reaffirmed the
U.S. commitment to support Philippine efforts to defeat terror in all its
forms. The two leaders reviewed recent progress in the war on terror but
agreed that this effort is far from over, as demonstrated by the May 12 terrorist
attack in Riyadh, in which both American and Philippine citizens were killed
and wounded. President Arroyo welcomed the additional counterterrorism security
assistance for the Philippines in the fiscal year 2003 supplemental budget.
President Bush emphasized that the United States would continue to provide
significant security assistance, training, equipment, and law enforcement
assistance to support the Philippines in the war on terror, as appropriate.
Recalling last year's highly successful deployment of U.S. troops to the
southern Philippines, the two leaders noted with satisfaction that the terrorist
Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) had been driven substantially from the island of Basilan,
enabling the restoration of peace and order. The two Presidents reaffirmed
their commitment to destroy the ASG once and for all. Toward that end, President
Bush and President Macapagal-Arroyo agreed to hold another joint military
activity in the near term, in which the United States will provide support
to ongoing Armed Forces of the Philippines-led operations against the ASG.
The two leaders agreed on the need for a comprehensive approach to defeating
terrorism in Southeast Asia, recognizing that terrorism knows no borders.
The Presidents agreed on the need for efforts to alleviate poverty and other
socio-economic grievances which can create conditions that can be exploited
by terrorists. President Arroyo expressed appreciation for increased U.S.
economic and development assistance to the southern Philippines, which reinforces
the Philippine Government's own efforts to heal divisions in Philippine society.
To advance this agenda, President Bush informed President Macapagal-Arroyo
that the United States will train and equip a Philippine engineering unit
capable of performing civic action and humanitarian projects in conflict
President Bush condemned recent terrorist acts in the southern Philippines.
President Arroyo appreciated the economic assistance recently allocated by
the United States Congress to support peace in Mindanao. President Bush stated
that the United States stands ready to provide diplomatic and financial support
to a renewed peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF),
provided that the MILF renounced terror.
The two Presidents agreed that the U.S.-Philippine security partnership
has never been healthier and emphasized the importance of U.S. support for
continuing efforts to improve the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the
Philippines (AFP). Toward that end, the two Presidents agreed to launch a
comprehensive review of Philippine security needs and how best the United
States can support President Macapagal-Arroyo's plans to modernize and reform
the AFP. President Bush committed to help address the AFP's most pressing
needs, particularly in the area of mobility, by providing helicopters and
spare parts. President Macapagal-Arroyo thanked President Bush for his promise
of assistance and pledged her government's full support for, and participation
in, the more comprehensive review.
The two Presidents expressed great pride in the robust economic and trade
ties that bind the United States and the Philippines, as evidenced by annual
bilateral trade exceeding $18 billion and cumulative direct private investment
of $3.5 billion. The leaders reviewed progress in implementing President
Bush's Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative, which is aimed at generating sustained
economic growth in Southeast Asia. They welcomed the revival of the bilateral
Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and agreed to resolve issues identified
in its Trade and Investment Council consultations. President Arroyo welcomed
the U.S. decision to provide tariff-free Generalized System of Preferences
(GSP) benefits to specific products requested by the Philippines and the
offer of additional technical and capacity building assistance on the protection
of intellectual property rights.
President Bush commended President Macapagal-Arroyo for her steadfast leadership
in pursuing needed economic reforms in the Philippines, noting in particular
her "Strong Republic" agenda aimed at rooting out corruption, expanding
economic opportunity, and alleviating poverty. President Bush welcomed President
Arroyo's determination to pursue reforms in revenue collection, energy privatization,
and intellectual property rights protection. They further noted their shared
hope that current and continuing reforms will strengthen the Philippines'
eligibility for participation in the President's Millennium Challenge Account
(MCA) in the future.
The two Presidents highlighted the remarkable contributions of Filipinos
and Filipino-Americans to American economic life. Recognizing the important
role that the over 7 million overseas Filipino workers play in the Philippine
and global economies, President Bush announced that the United States is
launching a project to facilitate the flow of remittances from Filipino workers
around the world back to the Philippines. The two leaders agreed that this
project would improve the lives of millions of Filipinos by lowering the
costs of remittance transactions and making it easier for funds to flow to
the Philippines from the United States and around the world.
The two Presidents reviewed with pride the contributions made by Philippine
World War II veterans who gave so much in defense of freedom. President Bush
announced his intention to support legislation extending new benefits for
Commonwealth Army veterans and guerrillas who lawfully reside in the United
States. He also announced continuing efforts to improve medical care for
Filipinos veterans in the Philippines by providing medical equipment to the
Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City in the 2004 fiscal year.
Presidents Bush and Macapagal-Arroyo looked forward to the May 20 signing
by Secretaries Powell and Ople of agreements on assistance for Mindanao,
law enforcement cooperation, and science and technology cooperation, noting
that cooperation in these three areas is a priority for both countries.
President Bush was pleased to accept President Macapagal-Arroyo's invitation
to pay a reciprocal visit to the Philippines when he travels to Southeast
Asia for APEC in 2003. The two leaders agreed that to maintain momentum in
the bilateral relationship, other senior U.S. officials will travel to Manila
in the coming months, beginning soon with Secretary of Energy Abraham and
continuing thereafter with senior officials from the Department of Treasury
and the Agency for International Development (AID).