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NEWS UPDATES 12 July 2009

Philippine president first in Asean to meet Obama 

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Philippines President Gloria Arroyo will become Southeast Asia's first leader to meet Barack Obama in the White House when she visits Washington on July 30, the US president's office was quoted by AFP as saying Saturday.

“The president will receive President Arroyo at the White House on July 30, where they will have an opportunity to discuss ways to enhance US-Philippine cooperation on critical global issues including counter-terrorism and climate change, as well as further the traditionally strong alliance and bond between our nations,” the White House said in a statement.

“President Arroyo will be the first leader from Southeast Asia to visit the United States under the Obama administration.” Arroyo, who last visited Washington in June 2008 and met then-president George W. Bush in the White House, is also scheduled to meet “key US government officials and members of Congress,” as well as entrepreneurs and business groups.

Manila has remained a steadfast US ally in Southeast Asia, notably in Washington's efforts to root out extremists and terror cells.

In early June US Defense Secretary Robert Gates vowed stepped-up support for the Philippines in its battle against homegrown Islamic militant groups linked to Al-Qaeda.

The Philippines and United States are bound by a 1951 treaty that calls on each side to help the other in times of war.

US special forces advisers have trained and equipped their Philippine counterparts against Abu Sayyaf, a small gang of militants with links to Al-Qaeda and blamed for the country's worst terrorist attacks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is scheduled to travel to India and Thailand, the venue for an annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.


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