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24/06/2011: US Defense Secretary Gates Expresses Readiness to Strengthen PH’s Capability on Maritime Security; National Intel Director Clapper Pledges Assistance in Maritime Surveillance

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario (right) is welcomed at the Pentagon by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (left).  Also in photo are, from right, Ambassador Jose Cuisia (partly hidden), Assistant Secretary for American Affairs Patricia Paez, and Political Officer Maria Austria of the Philippine Embassy.

24 June 2011, Washington DC. United States Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressed readiness to strengthen the Philippines’ capability in securing its maritime territory during his talks with Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert F. del Rosario at the Pentagon yesterday.

In a separate meeting by Secretary del Rosario with U.S. National Director for Intelligence (NDI) James Clapper this morning, the U.S. official pledged to enhance the NDI’s intelligence-sharing with the Philippines to heighten the latter’s maritime situational awareness and surveillance in the West Philippine Sea.

Secretary del Rosario conveyed to U.S. defense officials that to complement the Excess Defense Articles (EDA) which the U.S. traditionally turns over to the Philippines, he is exploring an option to access “newer U.S. military assets which the Philippines could acquire quicker but through a deliberate selection and, which hopefully, are more cost-effective.”

In response, U.S. Defense Undersecretary for Policy Ms. Michelle Fluornoy said that “we would be happy to have our team look into the full range of (the Philippines’) requirements (for maritime security)” and stressed that “we should not allow this perception that you (referring to the Philippines) are alone and we’re not behind you.”

Clapper emphasized that the U.S. “has a long association” with the Philippines and “we’ll do whatever we can to help” even as he expressed concern over the recent incidents in the West Philippine Sea. (END)