Aquino, Obama to hold talks at the Oval Office: Will China dominate headlines?

President Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. on June 6 for a three-day official visit that includes a meeting with President Obama, the Philippine Embassy announced in a statement.

Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr. said the meeting scheduled on June 8 will be the fourth between the two leaders, but the first to be held at the White House.

“The meeting will lay the groundwork for the future of the strategic partnership between the Philippines and the United States,” Cuisia said in the statement.

Aquino and Obama are expected to discuss a wide range of topics, including the country’s close strategic, economic, and people-to-people ties during their meeting at the Oval Office, said Cuisia. The two leaders will also touch on cooperation in the Asia Pacific as the U.S. refocuses its attention in the area.

The visit will be an “important and interesting” event, said Ernest Bower of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank based in D.C.

“Developments in the Scarborough Shoal, an area located 120 nautical miles off the Philippines where Manila and Beijing remain locked in a standoff at sea, are expected to dominate the headlines on Aquino’s trip,” he said.

Both countries are aware of regional sensitivities about increasing tensions between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea. Some in Asean, he said, are concerned that the Philippines is “playing its hand too aggressively with China and that heightened U.S. engagement may provoke Beijing.”

Without delving into details, Cuisia said there will be discussions on bilateral economic and defense cooperation, the shift in the focus of the United States toward the Asia-Pacific and “ways to revitalize our alliance.”

While in D.C., Aquino will be feted by Secretary Hillary Clinton at a luncheon at the State Department, and will meet key leaders of the Senate at a coffee reception at Capitol Hill. He will also grace the inaugural dinner of the newly formed United States-Philippines Society.

Aquino will meet with President Pro-Tempore Daniel K. Inouye (Democrat-Hawaii), also the Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations; Sen. William Thad Cochran (Republican-Mississippi), a member of the Committee on Appropriations; Sen. John F. Kerry (Democrat-Massachusetts), Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations; and Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Republican-Indiana), a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

He will also meet with American business leaders.

Aquino’s delegation will include Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo.

One Comment

  1. RobDH wrote:

    The U.S. will ask for more coconuts and the PI will want more bullets. Good deal.
    China underestimated how strong the ties are between the Philippines and America.

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