Wolfowitz Meets With Philippine President
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
MANILA, Jun. 2, 2002 Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz met with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to discuss on-going counterterrorism training in her country.
Wolfowitz said he had the sense that the Philippine leader was pleased with the help U.S. military trainers and engineers have provided the Philippine military to date.
Wolfowitz said U.S. forces "had observed the ground rules" while dealing with their Philippine allies. The United States has about 1,000 service members in the Philippines. U.S. Special Forces soldiers are helping train elite Philippine units to hunt down Abu Sayyaf terrorists hiding on the island of Basilan.
Philippine officials invited the U.S. forces for training purposes only. Philippine military personnel solely carry out operations against the terrorists. However, U.S. trainers can accompany senior- level units to observe operations.
Macapagal-Arroyo met with Wolfowitz for more than an hour. She then hosted a dinner for the deputy secretary at Malacanang Palace. A senior defense official said Philippine Vice President Teofisto Guingona and a large number of cabinet members also attended the dinner. The senior official also said that the Philippine government was pleased with the results of the U.S.-Philippine Balikatan exercise held on the main island of Luzon. The two countries' military officials are talking about more such exercises.