Obama arrives in Manila
MANILA, Philippines – US President Barack Obama arrived in Manila on Monday afternoon for his two-day state visit in the country.
Obama arrived on Air Force One at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 1:26 p.m., a couple of hours after the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) was signed at Camp Aguinaldo.
He was greeted by honor guards and received by Vice President Jejomar Binay, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Cuisia.
The visiting president and his party then boarded the Marine One Presidential Helicopter that would bring them to Malacañang.
He is in the Philippines for the first time to meet with President Benigno Aquino III and to strengthen the ties between the two countries.
The Philippines is the last stop of Obama’s Asian tour—he had previously visited Japan, South Korea and Malaysia—which is part of the US bid to rebalance its forces in the region amid China’s increasing political and military might.
The signing of the EDCA, which will allow US troops to access Philippine military facilities, by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and US Ambassador Philip Goldberg came just in time for Obama’s visit, prompting critics to claim that it was rushed “as a gift” to the visiting US President.
Obama will be heading straight to Malacañang to meet with Aquino. The bilateral meeting will be followed by a joint conference and a dinner reception.
On Tuesday, the US President will meet with members of the business sector and then with the Armed Forces of the Philippines at Fort Bonifacio. He is expected to visit the Manila American cemetery before leaving the country around noontime.
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