(Eagle News) – United States Assistant Secretary David R. Stilwell stressed the importance of a “strong U.S.-Philippines alliance” saying this “deters aggression and promotes regional stability.”
Stilwell co-chaired the recent US-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue” held from July 15 to 16 in Manila.
The US Department of State official said the Philippines is an important strategic partner and treaty ally, and promised to help “improve our combined defense posture.”
“As a treaty ally, our partnership with the Philippines is critical for realizing our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, with thriving sovereign nations,” he said.
“A strong U.S.-Philippines alliance deters aggression and promotes regional stability, and we welcome enhanced defense cooperation with the Philippines,” he explained in his statement.
Stilwell was assigned as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs only on June 20 this year.
Before this assignment, he served in the US Air Force for 35 years, retiring in 2015 with the rank of Brigadier General as the Asia advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
“I am thrilled to have included the Philippines in my first overseas trip as Assistant Secretary. I look forward to working closely with my counterparts here in Manila, and with Ambassador Romualdez in Washington,” he said on Tuesday, July 16, referring to Philippine Ambassador to US Jose Manuel Romualdez.
-Improving combined defense posture-
Stilwell said he was looking forward “to continued coordination in the coming months” with the Philippine officials “to determine steps we can take to improve our combined defense posture.”
He also recognized how the Philippines is in a good position as a claimant state in the South China Sea to make sure that there is freedom of navigation and overflight in the region in the Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.
“As a claimant state in the South China Sea, the Philippines is well-positioned to ensure that the ASEAN code of conduct text is fully consistent with international law, protecting the freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea for all countries, as well as the rights of claimant states to pursue security and development arrangements with partners of their choosing,” Stillwell said.
He also reiterated the position of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he visited Manila early this year that America only “seeks partnership, not denomination” wherever it goes.
-US vows to help Philippines fight terrorism-
He expressed the US commitment to help the Philippines fight ISIS and other terrorist groups.
“We are committed to continuing our partnership with the Philippines to fight ISIS and other terrorist groups, as well as to counter violent extremism,” Stilwell stressed.
The US Assistant Secretary also vowed to continue to work with the Philippines to fully implement all UN Security Council resolutions for continued diplomacy with North Korea.”
This, he said, is to achieve the goals of US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for building lasting peace and complete denuclearization.