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US veep to visit PH in Nov. to ‘reaffirm, strengthen’ ties

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US Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the Philippines in November to “reaffirm and strengthen” bilateral ties between the two countries, the White House said on Saturday (Manila time).

Harris will first go to Thailand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Meeting on November 18-19 in Bangkok before heading to Manila.

She will travel with her husband, Doug Emhoff, who headed the US delegation at President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s nauguration on June 30.

US Vice President Kamala Harris

“In the Philippines, she will meet with government leaders and civil society representatives. Her visit will re-affirm and strengthen the U.S.-Philippines Alliance and underscore the breadth of our cooperation as friends, partners, and allies,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The United States is hoping for a smooth relationship with President Marcos after rough patches with his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

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Mr. Marcos earlier scrapped a deal to buy military helicopters from Russia, the target of a US pressure campaign over its invasion of Ukraine, and has instead sealed a deal with the United States.

The announcement of Harris’ upcoming visit comes after US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said the State Department will make available $100 million in foreign military financing to the Philippines after the aborted helicopter deal with Russia.

Harris will represent US President Joe Biden in the APEC meeting in Bangkok as the latter has to attend his granddaughter’s wedding.

His eldest granddaughter, Naomi Biden, earlier this year announced plans to get married on November 19 on the White House’s South Lawn, only the 19th wedding ever held at the US executive mansion, according to the White House Historical Association.

Biden will likely have a chance to visit Thailand in 2023 when the kingdom takes over from Cambodia as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which leads the annual East Asia Summit.

Asian diplomats and experts put high value on US presidents’ attendance at such summits, seeing them as proof of Washington’s stated commitment to the region at a time when China is seeking to exert its clout.

But then US president Donald Trump also skipped the last in-person APEC summit, in 2018 in Papua New Guinea, with vice president Mike Pence attending instead. With AFP

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