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Bush Underscores Strength of US Ties with Philippines


U.S. President George W. Bush says the United States and the Philippines are standing strong against global terrorism. He said more American help is on the way to the Philippines as the two meet the challenges of "a dangerous world."

When President Bush and Philippine President Gloria Arroyo met with reporters at the White House, they spoke as old friends and strong allies.

Mr. Bush called her a leader in the war on terrorism, and he offered American help as the Philippines deals with its own terrorist threat. "The United States plans to designate the Philippines as a major non-NATO ally. This step will allow our countries to work together on military research and development and give the Philippines greater access to American defense equipment and supplies," he said.

Mr. Bush also said there would be another deployment of U.S. forces to support Philippine-led anti-terrorism operations. But he stressed they would act as advisors and trainers and in accordance with the Philippine constitution.

"The United States is committed to helping when asked. President Arroyo and I reviewed last year's highly successful deployment of U.S. troops to the southern Philippines and we agreed to a similar deployment in the near term," Mr. Bush said.

President Arroyo has been America's strongest ally in southeast Asia both in fighting terrorism, and in the war in Iraq. She was thanked with all the pomp of a state visit. It was only the third state visit of the Bush presidency and the first by an Asian leader.

At the formal arrival ceremony, complete with military bands and an honor guard, she said combating terrorism is not easy, but it must be done. "Our war on terrorism has made significant gains but the threat is far from over. The war is not yet won. But it will be won, there can be no doubt. How long and at what cost are the only things in doubt," Ms. Arroyo said.

She said there must be a comprehensive approach to the problem, and that attention must also be paid to attacking poverty. "It is not poverty which causes terrorism. Terrorism breeds on poverty and poverty breeds on terrorism. They re-enforce each other, and that is why we must fight them together," she explained.

President Arroyo also used the occasion to invite President Bush to make a reciprocal state visit to the Philippines. It is expected to occur in October, when Mr. Bush goes to southeast Asia for the annual Asian-Pacific summit.

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