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Philippine President Tours US Ship Used in Bin Laden Burial


Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (2nd L) watches an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet about to be catapulted from the US Navy's USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier near the Philippines, May 14, 2011

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (2nd L) watches an F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet about to be catapulted from the US Navy's USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier near the Philippines, May 14, 2011

Philippine President Benigno Aquino and other top officials have gotten a close-up look at the ship from which al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was buried at sea.

Philippine officials said Aquino and members of his cabinet were flown by helicopter to the USS Carl Vinson Saturday. Aquino was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Harry Thomas and also spoke with some Filipino-American crew members.

The USS Carl Vinson and three other U.S. ships are traveling to Manila for a four-day visit starting Sunday.

U.S. officials say the visit is a routine port call for maintenance and replenishing supplies.

U.S. military officials say the USS Carl Vinson buried Osama bin Laden in the north Arabian Sea after special forces tracked him down and killed him in his Pakistani hideout.

A military officer "read prepared religious remarks which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker." The body was then placed in a weighted bag before it was "eased into the sea."

A U.S. official said the former terrorist mastermind and al-Qaida leader was buried at sea because no land location was available. He did not elaborate.

The Philippines, like the U.S., has endured its own battles with al-Qaida linked terrorists.

Abu Sayyaf, which claimed to be fighting for a Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines, became best known for a series of kidnappings for ransom. Police and Southeast Asia terrorism experts say the group has links to both the al-Qaida and the Jemaah Islamiyah Islamic militants based in Indonesia.

The Philippines has a predominately Christian population but it has a large Muslim minority, mostly living in the country's southern islands.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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