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PH, US conclude 2+2 meeting

The Philippines and the United States governments have concluded its 2 + 2 meeting with both sides vowing to further strengthen its alliance.

The meeting was held last week in Washington D.C. between Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and their U.S. counterparts Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

In a joint statement, the two sides reaffirmed its shared obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty, which, both said, remains the foundation of the Philippines-U.S. security relationship.

In seeking to enhance security cooperation, the two sides vowed to jointly explore modalities for strengthening the defense capabilities of the Philippines in order to establish a minimum credible defense posture through robust cooperative security assistance programs.

The two sides also affirmed that their respective military forces should be prepared to respond in a timely and effective way to the range of contingencies that may arise in our region, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and should be able to work with the armed forces of regional partners.

Both promised to ensure that their collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure are operationally and materially capable of countering the full spectrum of traditional and non-traditional threats.

The two sides also swore to cooperate on building the Philippines’ maritime security presence and capabilities and strengthening its maritime domain awareness in order to contribute to national defense and enhanced regional security related to issues such as illegal fishing, transnational crime, and natural disasters. To this end, the United States intends to transfer a second High Endurance cutter to the Philippines this year.

The two sides also vowed to continue joint counter-terrorism efforts, including through U.S. non-combat support to the Philippine security services in combating al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in the southern Philippines.

The two sides will also continue joint training and exercises such as the recently completed Exercise Balikatan 2012 to enhance force interoperability.