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Manila: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Sunday that his upcoming meeting with US President Joe Biden was necessary to advance his country̵7;s national interest and strengthen the “very important alliance” between Manila and Washington.

Marcos departed Manila on Sunday for the first state visit by a Philippine leader in nearly a decade, following a series of high-level engagements over the past year, including his meeting with Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Was. US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to the Philippines in September and in November.

Marcos said: “My visit to the United States, and especially my meeting with President Joe Biden, is necessary to advance our national interests and strengthen that very important alliance.”

His visit comes at a time of rising geopolitical tensions over self-ruled Taiwan and concerns over China’s conduct in the disputed South China Sea. It also takes place amid stronger Philippine-US defense ties marked by their largest-ever joint military exercise in April and the recent expansion of US access to Philippine bases.

Marcos highlighted his determination to strengthen Philippine-US ties, citing areas such as food security, climate change, cyber security “in a wide range of areas that not only address the concerns of our times, but important to advance our core interests.” , and economic resilience.

“The Philippines will reaffirm its commitment to promoting our long-standing alliances as instruments of peace and as catalysts of development in the Asia Pacific region,” Marcos said.

Although Filipino leaders are seeking good relations with both China and the US, the Philippines’ relationship with the latter is only returning after years of former President Rodrigo Duterte turning Manila away from Washington in favor of Beijing.

Stephen Cutler, former FBI legal attache in Manila, told Arab News, “He’s taking time off and I think … the optics of it are massive, especially considering the previous administration.” “So, I think it’s going to be good.”

Cutler said that Marcos’ visit also provides space to discuss other issues in their defense relationship besides Philippine-US relations.

“Relations with the United States and the issues facing the Philippines go beyond mere or mere military security.

“One of the things that the president’s visit will allow him to do is establish some really good relationships with American businesses that have the potential to add jobs in that sector here in the Philippines,” he said.

According to national surveys, job creation is one of the top concerns among Filipinos.

Marcelino Libanon, minority leader in the Philippine House of Representatives, said: “We are all counting on the president’s visit to pave the way for the additional US direct investment flows that we need to support our economic recovery and create new jobs.” Needed.”