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15 November 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Leaders of the United States House of Representatives and ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific have expressed their condolences to the Philippines and the Filipino people in the wake of the massive devastation wreaked by supertyphoonHaiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines.

The American lawmakers and the Asia-Pacific envoys also assured Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. of their readiness to assist in the country’s rehabilitation and reconstruction during a roundtable discussion called by the House Committee on Armed Services at Capitol Hill on 12 November.

“Our thoughts are especially with Ambassador Cuisia, Jr., as his country is facing enormous tragedy and loss,” said a joint statement released by Rep. Randy Forbes (Republican, Virginia), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Seapower, and Rep. ColleenHanabusa (Democrat, Hawaii).

“We discussed the unique humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities that our military is providing to the Philippine Government, and we told him that the United States has a history of standing with our friends and allies in times of need,” the two lawmakers said in their statement.

“Indeed, strong and consistent alliances and partnerships are the key to America’s interests in the region.  That is why it is vital that we continue to honor those obligations,” they said.

In response, Ambassador Cuisia thanked the legislators and the US Government for their support, particularly in the immediate deployment of air and naval assets that are now supporting the relief effort in areas in the Central Visayas that were devastated byHaiyan.

“As the Philippines struggles with the loss of lives and devastation brought about by Typhoon Haiyan, two things have become apparent: the spirit of kinship that inspired the US government and people to come to the assistance of the Philippines, and the reality that environmental challenges compel us to work even more closely together in terms of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

Ambassadors Kim Beazley  of Australia; Kenichiro Sasae of Japan; Ho Young-Ahn of the Republic of Korea; Ashok Kumar Mirpuri of Singapore; and Mike Moore of New Zealand also expressed to Ambassador Cuisia the sympathy and solidarity of their governments and their peoples with the Philippines and the Filipino people.

The roundtable, which seeks to pursue a dialogue between committee members and Asia-Pacific ambassadors, was part of a larger oversight initiative focused on the “Asia Pacific Rebalance” led by Congressman Forbes and Congresswoman Hanabusa along with Representatives Howard P. McKeon (Republican, California), Adam Smith (Democrat, Washington), Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat, Guam), and Susan Davis (Democrat, California).

In his remarks during the roundtable, Ambassador Cuisia noted that the Philippines isthe oldest treaty ally of the United States in the Asia Pacific.

“Our alliance was borne by a shared history and a common adherence to democracy. Our men and women have fought side by side by side since World War II, and in UN peacekeeping operations, in key non-proliferation initiatives and in the fight against terrorism,” Ambassador Cuisia said

In their joint statement, Congressman Forbes and Congresswoman Hanabusa said they were also encouraged by the wider discussion the allied ambassadors provided to support a better understanding of security developments in the region and the US rebalance to Asia.

“We appreciated their candid insights and look forward to a continued dialogue about matters in the region important to all our respective interests,” they said. “US policy towards the Asia-Pacific region remains a bipartisan effort, and we look forward to our ongoing dialogue as the Armed Services Committee continues its important oversight.” END

House Roundtable. Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.  participates in a roundtable with Members of the Committee on Armed Services of the United States House of Representatives and ambassadors from the Asia-Pacific Region at the House Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. In photo are Rep. Buck McKeon,Committee Chairman Randy Forbes, Australian Ambassador Kim Beazley, JapaneseAmbassador Kenichiro Sasae ; New Zealand Ambassador Mike Moore; and Ambassador Cuisia. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Ariel Penaranda)