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12 May 2015

WASHINGTON D.C.–Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario called on the United States to urgently give more focus to recent developments in the South China Sea and provide substance to its Asia rebalance policy.

At the launch of the US-Philippines Strategic Initiative (USPSI) today, May 12, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C, the Secretary said that the Philippines remains supportive of the US Government’s rebalance towards Asia.

The US-Philippines Strategic Initiative, a joint project by CSIS and the ADR Institute, aims to highlight the enduring alliance “through sustainable and strategic engagement on high-impact global and regional issues.” It is expected to produce policy recommendations that would enable the Philippines-US alliance to effectively deal with current political and economic realities.

Secretary Del Rosario lauded the effort in his written remarks, describing it as “deliberate, timely, and time-bound.”

“At the core of this Initiative is the realization that the United States must remain an active player in strengthening the regional architecture for stability, security and development. The Philippines, in turn, contributes to and has an important role to play in maintaining that regional stability,” the Secretary emphasized.

The Philippines is the oldest treaty ally of the United States in Asia. In recent years, the two countries have been closely working together to reinvigorate their bilateral relations within the context of the US rebalance policy and in light of new issues that have far-reaching implications for the region’s security and progress. Among these issues are the maritime disputes plaguing the region, including those that concern the South China Sea.

“The South China Sea dispute is the most important issue today,” Secretary Del Rosario stressed.

The Philippines is advocating a peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law. This position has generated broad support from the United States and the rest of the international community.

The Secretary also underscored the economic and people-to-people ties that bind the Philippines and the United States as strongly as their cooperation in the field of defense and security.

The audience was composed of around 150 people, including CSIS fellows, Philippine and US government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and media representatives. He was joined in the panel by Mr. William Cohen, Chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group, a global consultancy firm. Mr. Ernest Bower, Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies and co-director of the Pacific Partners Initiative at CSIS, moderated the discussion.

The Secretary last visited CSIS in September 2012 during the “The Philippines Conference."

After the launch of the USPSI, Secretary Del Rosario proceeded to a reception in honor of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus in the US Capitol. He reiterated to US legislators the vital role of the Philippines-US alliance in preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific. The Secretary then briefed the Caucus members on Philippine issues, including the recent developments in the South China Sea, the post-Haiyan rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts and the status of the Filipino communities across the US.

“It is through the tireless efforts of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus that bilateral relations gain more meaning and relevance to peoples’ lives,” Secretary Del Rosario remarked. ###

12 May 2015

(From left) Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario. CSIS Sumitro Chair for Southeast Asia Studies Ernest Bower and Mr. Cohen at the launch of the US-Philippines Strategic Initiative on 12 May 2015 in Washington, DC.

12 May 2015

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario (3rd from left) and Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. (leftmost) with some members of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus on 12 May 2015 at the US Capitol in Washington, DC.