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Obama, Arroyo Talks to Include Counterterrorism

U.S. President Barack Obama is hosting Philippine President Gloria Arroyo at the White House Thursday for talks to include combating regional terrorism.

Mrs. Arroyo will be the first Southeast Asian leader to meet with Mr. Obama at the White House. Speaking in Manila Wednesday before departing for Washington, she said her talks will focus on counterterrorism cooperation following suicide bombings at two Jakarta hotels this month.

Ms. Arroyo also is seeking a continued U.S. commitment to helping her government improve security and economic development in the conflict-ridden southern Philippines.

Analysts say Ms. Arroyo's political future also is likely to be discussed. The Philippine president has less than a year left in office.

The Philippine constitution bars Ms. Arroyo from seeking another term and she has said she has no desire to serve longer as president.

But her allies in the Philippine Congress are pursuing a constitutional amendment to change the government from a presidential to a parliamentary system - potentially enabling Ms. Arroyo to become prime minister.

Ms. Arroyo is also meeting Thursday with three key U.S. lawmakers - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.