Friday, July 31, 2009

Obama hails Philippine peace moves

President Gloria Arroyo during a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington. (Photo by Jerry Carual)
The US president has praised the Philippine government for trying to restore peace in its volatile southern region.

Barack Obama made the comments when he hosted his Philippine counterpart Glorio Arroyo at the White House on Thursday.

Obama said Arroyo's move to begin a reconciliation process in Mindanao was essential to stop a conflict "that we think has the potential to bring peace and stability to a part of the Philippines that has been wracked by unrest for too long".

Obama also welcomed the Philippines' "strong voice" on other regional issues such as human rights abuses in Myanmar and North Korea's nuclear programme.
Military help

For her part, Arroyo, the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the US since Obama took office, thanked the US for economic assistance and its help with the Philippine armed forces.

"We are very thankful for the US as an important ally in helping to professionalise our military and making it more effective," she said.

"Just as important, we are thankful to the US for being such a good ally ... working on soft power, by helping us build bridges, roads, schools, not only in Mindanao, but across the nation."

Arroyo said that US help has enabled Manila to make progress in efforts towards a negotiated peace in Mindanao, where fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf hold bases.

"This assistance of the US has gone a long way in helping us to achieve what we have been able to achieve in the peace process in Mindanao, in southern Philippines, and also in our fight against terrorism," she said.

Arroyo also praised the Obama administration's stance on climate change. (Al Jazeera)


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