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Marcos meets Joe Biden at White House

Marcos meets Joe Biden at White House

WASHINGTON - President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. met US President Joe Biden on Monday afternoon (Tuesday early morning in the Philippines).

Biden welcomed the Philippine president at the White House at almost 3 p.m.

"Mr. President, welcome back to the White House. We talked on the way over. It's been a while since you've been here... We welcome you back," Biden said, noting that Marcos was with his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., when the former Philippine leader visited the White House during the Reagan administration.

“You were with… here with President Reagan with your father… and we welcome you back,” Biden said.

"You know, when we met in New York, you told me that the strong alliance has to continue... while we face the challenges of this new century. And we are facing the challenges and I can't think of a better partner to have than you," he added.

In reply, Marcos mentioned the need to strengthen the alliance and the partnership amid the geopolitical issues and the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Thank you very much, Mr. President. And as you say, in the difficult times that we are facing ahead of us, we need to find... ways to strengthen our alliances  and partnership in the face of the new economy that we are facing post-pandemic," Marcos said in his opening remarks.

"Beyond that, there are also issues, geopolitical issues that make the region [inaudible] the Philippines is, possibly, arguably the most complicated geopolitical situation in the world right now," he added.

Marcos said it was natural for the Philippines to look to its sole treaty partner in the world "to strengthen and to redefine the relationship that we have and the roles that we play in the face of... tensions that we see now around the South China Sea and the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific region."

"So I welcome very much the opportunity to come here to visit with you in White House and to discuss all these terribly important issues," Marcos said.

"We have many things that are new that need to be assessed and again our role as partners in the world—in our worldview of what we are hoping for the future of peace, not only in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific region but in the whole world," he added.

Marcos earlier said among his priority topics during his meeting with Biden was the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which according to him, needed to evolve amid the developing security situation.

Under the pact, Manila and Washington agreed that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either the Philippines or the US would compel the countries to act to meet the common dangers in accordance with their constitutional processes.

A Reuters report has said that the US government saw the Philippines as a "key to any effort to counter an invasion of Taiwan by China."

It said experts believed that Washington has been eyeing Manila to be a potential location for rockets, missiles, and artillery systems which will be used against the Chinese amphibious assault.

Marcos has however said that the country would not be used as a "staging post" for any kind of military action.  —NB/KG/KBK, GMA Integrated News