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U.S., Philippines Contacts to Expand

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2002 – The Philippines and the United States reached an agreement this week that will expand an already robust defense alliance, DoD officials said.

The move came following an Aug. 12 meeting here between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Philippine National Defense Minister Angelo Reyes. The agreement seeks to duplicate the success of the military-to-military program with senior civilian officials.

The idea will increase civilian-to-civilian contacts between the Office of the Secretary of Defense and its Philippine counterparts. Civilian officials will be able to deal with issues of managing the U.S.-Philippine alliance and address topics of common interests and concern, the officials said.

Rumsfeld and Reyes met in the Pentagon for 45 minutes. Rumsfeld thanked Reyes for the Philippine contributions to the war on terror. The two men "agreed in principle" to the meeting between senior civilians, but left the details of such contacts for later.

The United States and the Philippines are treaty allies. The United States helped the Philippines with training and logistics in their efforts against the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the southern Philippines. That operation ended July 31, but contact between the two countries continues.

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