by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) June 23, 2011
The Philippines said Thursday it hoped to lease naval equipment from the United States, calling for a "reset" in the two nations' alliance in the face of rising friction at sea with China.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, in Washington for talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also indicated that the Philippines viewed the tense South China Sea as covered under its security treaty with the United States.
Del Rosario said the Philippines wanted to move away from buying second-hand military hardware and that hoped the United States would consider "an operational lease so that we can look at fairly new equipment and be able to get our hands on that quickly."
"We need to have the resources to be able to stand and defend ourselves and, I think, to the extent that we can do that, we become a stronger ally for you," del Rosario said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies ahead of his meeting with Clinton.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Tuesday also called for US assistance on the dispute. Del Rosario said that Aquino has allocated 11 billion pesos (252 million dollars) to upgrade the navy.
Tensions in the strategic and resource-rich South China Sea -- part of which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea -- have escalated in recent weeks, with the Philippines and Vietnam alarmed at what they say are increasingly aggressive actions by Beijing in the disputed waters.
The Philippines has announced the deployment in disputed waters of its navy flagship, the Rajah Humabon. One of the world's oldest warships, the Rajah Humabon was a former US Navy frigate that served during World War II.
Del Rosario said that US-Philippine cooperation against Islamic extremism since the September 11, 2001 attacks had largely defeated Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, estimating the group's current strength at 200 guerrillas.
"The Philippines' relative success in counter-insurgency coupled with pressures in the regional environment compel a reorientation of focus and resources," he said.
"A reset in our relations has therefore become an imperative to allow the alliance to continue to meet domestic goals while contributing to global stability," he said.
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Iraq raises salaries for Basra oil workers
Baghdad (AFP) June 23, 2011
Iraq's government said Thursday it was raising salaries at its southern oil terminals, following threats of a strike that would paralyse oil exports. "The cabinet decided to grant a 30 percent increase in salaries of employees at the oil terminals in Basra and in Khor al-Aamaya" near the southernmost Faw peninsula, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. He said the initiative was mean ... read more
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