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SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. I’m really pleased to welcome Foreign Secretary Albert Del Rosario, the Foreign Secretary of the Philippines, a country that I’ve had a great deal to do with when I was – in my years in the Senate, very involved in the democracy transition that took place with Cory Aquino, President Aquino, and now with her son, President Aquino. And it’s wonderful to welcome the Foreign Secretary here.
The Philippines is one of our five Asia-Pacific allies, and a very, very important relationship at this point in time when there are tensions over the South China Sea, where we support a code of conduct, and we are deeply concerned some of those tensions and would like to see it worked out through a process of arbitration.
In addition, the Foreign Secretary and I will talk about the important trade relationship, and particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the TPP, which we both have interest in. And I look forward to having a very good conversation with him about that.
So we’re happy to welcome him. We couldn’t have a stronger relationship than at this moment in time, and we look forward to discussing the ways in which we can even strengthen that and work towards the ASEAN meeting and our common interests.
So thank you for visiting.
FOREIGN SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Thank you. Good morning. I want to thank the Secretary for his kind invitation. At the very outset, I’d like to express how much we value the Secretary’s extensive experience in foreign relations, his understanding of Asia, and as he mentioned, his personal stake in terms of having our democracy restored for us in 1986 when he was there as a member of the international election monitoring team.
The Secretary has spoken of the various challenges, and I know that he’s been following developments closely. And as he looks at the Philippines, I know that he will appreciate the many good things that’s happening there. And as well as he has said, we do have many emerging challenges in the region, which should be addressed.
I think that said, I’d like to say – I’d like to add further that the Secretary and I are committed to working together in order to be able to strengthen our treaty alliance and to be able to enhance our strategic partnership. So thank you very much.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. You’re welcome. Glad to have you here.
I should have mentioned that he spent a lot of time in New York at school, so he knows us well. Thank you.