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The following is the text of a joint statement issued by the United States and the Philippines at the conclusion of the Fourth Philippines-United States Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held on March 6-7, 2014.

The Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America held their fourth Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) on March 6-7, 2014, in Washington, D.C. The Dialogue continued the two allies’ close consultation and exchange of views on a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues that reflect common values, mutual respect, and converging interests. The fourth BSD was another productive event in the U.S.-Philippine partnership, following the third BSD held on December 11-12, 2012, in Manila, and continuing with official visits by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario to Washington, D.C., on April 3, 2013, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to Manila on August 30, 2013, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry to Manila and Tacloban on December 17-18, 2013, as well as a series of other high-level visits and exchanges between officials of both countries.

During the Dialogue, the United States reiterated its sympathies over the tragic loss of life and devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The Philippines expressed its deep appreciation for the assistance given by the United States in the aftermath of the storm. The Philippines also thanked the United States for the latter’s efforts to help the Filipino people and the Philippine government rebuild and reconstruct devastated areas.

In light of lessons learned in working together in areas affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, both countries resolved to strengthen their joint cooperation and training in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including exploring ways to streamline processes further in the event of natural disasters.

During the Dialogue, the Philippines and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, discussed actions that would further invigorate and expand their partnership in the spirit of the November 2011 Manila Declaration, and decided to expand cooperation in the areas of maritime domain awareness, disaster response preparedness, law enforcement, and nonproliferation.

Both sides also welcomed the current negotiations on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and expressed optimism for a successful conclusion.

The two sides expressed concern over recent developments in the South China Sea, and emphasized the importance of upholding peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce, and freedom of navigation and overflight. The two sides reiterated that international disputes in the South China Sea should be settled in accordance with international law and through diplomatic or other peaceful means, such as through the use of arbitration. The two sides expressed concern over the ambiguity and potential breadth of some claims and agreed on the importance of all claimants clarifying their territorial and maritime claims. They underscored that maritime claims in the South China Sea must be derived from land features in accordance with the international law of the sea, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Both sides expressed hope for the expeditious conclusion of a meaningful Code of Conduct (COC) on the South China Sea between ASEAN and China. Both sides expressed opposition to unilateral measures that aim to alter the status quo and that escalate tensions in the region and called on all parties to exercise self-restraint.

The Philippines expressed its appreciation for assistance to be provided under the Global Security Contingency Fund, which focuses on Philippine maritime security, law enforcement, and counterterrorism training and capacity building.

Both sides reaffirmed their steadfast support for United Nations peacekeeping operations. Recalling peacekeeping-related discussions between the two sides in 2013, specifically on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, the Philippines and the United States agreed on the indispensable role of UNDOF towards maintaining regional peace and stability and resolved to continue exploring ways to ensure the mission’s success, including enhancing the safety and security of UN peacekeepers, including the Philippine contingent.

Our two countries decided to deepen economic ties through the Partnership for Growth, the Philippines’ compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and bilateral Agreement on Scientific and Technology Cooperation including more academic and student exchanges. They agreed to make progress on trade and investment issues in the context of the next Trade and Investment Framework Agreement meeting later this month. The meeting recognized the Philippine government efforts and achievement in the protection of labor rights and improvement of aviation safety.

The two sides discussed cooperative activities in the area of law enforcement, including combating money laundering and cybercrime, anticorruption, and the rule of law in the Philippines. The meeting also acknowledged Philippine government efforts to promote and protect human rights and prevent trafficking in persons, and recognized Philippine government steps to increase prosecutions and to enhance measures addressing human rights issues.

The Dialogue was co-chaired by Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Evan P. Garcia and Undersecretary of National Defense Pio Lorenzo F. Batino for the Republic of the Philippines and by Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Kelly Magsamen for the United States.