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US Secretary of State Kerry to Visit Manila, Tacloban

US Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Yolanda-ravaged areas in his first visit to the Philippines.

Kerry will visit Southeast Asia and Middle East from December 11 to 18, a press statement from Jen Psaki, department spokesperson in Washington said.

His trip will kick off on Wednesday, when we flies to Jerusalem and Ramallah. His next next stop would be Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi before heading to Manila and storm-hit Tacloban.

He is expected to meet the heads of state of each country that he will visit. This trip to Asia will be his fourth to the region since becoming Secretary of State.

Psaki said Southeast Asia holds a special importance as the US re-balances within the Asia-Pacific, adding that this will “demonstrate the enduring U.S. commitment and his personal connections to the region.”

In October, Kerry’s trip to the Philippines was cancelled due to typhoon Santi (international name Nari) that battered Luzon.

“In Manila, the Secretary will meet with senior Philippine officials to discuss ways to build on our already-strong economic, security, and people-to-people relations,” Psaki said.

Kerry will visit typhoon-battered Tacloban “to witness first-hand the recovery efforts that are taking place there and discuss how the United States can continue to contribute to the relief and reconstruction work.”

Stephen Cutler, chairman of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) – Manila Country Council, recommended “heightened diligence” even as “no/ no new security threats have been detected” with Kerry’s visit.

“OSAC and American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham SDRG) members and firms should be alert to traffic issues, disruptions and crowds and potential threats related to this visit at hotels, public venues, other points of interest, and the travel routes between venues,” Cutler said.