U.S. sees early 'challenges' dealing with new Philippines administration
The United States is seeking early engagement with the newly elected administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the Philippines, although historical considerations mean there will probably be some initial challenges, the chief U.S. policy maker for Asia said on Wednesday.
"Time will tell, but our desire will be to get off to a good start," Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific said of Marcos's decisive victory on Monday in the Philippines' presidential election.
"We are seeking early engagement," he said. "There are some historical considerations that probably (mean), at least initially, there will be some challenges in that communication."
"But obviously, the Philippines plays such a critical important role and we will seek to continue close partnership in the security realm and increasing trade and economic ties."
"Our expectation is we'll be able to continue to work closely," Campbell said, adding that U.S. relations with outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte "really rebounded" toward the end of his term, "at least the strategic level, and we want very much to continue that."
Campbell made the comment at the U.S. Institute of Peace ahead of President Joe Biden's summit with Southeast Asian countries on Thursday and Friday. The Philippines will not attend at leader level due to its transition.
The Philippines is a long standing treaty ally of the United States, but Marcos's victory looks set to complicate U.S. efforts to push back against China, Washington's main strategic rival.
Marcos, son and namesake of the Philippines former dictator, has long-standing ties with China and is seeking a new deal with Chinese ruler Xi Jinping over the contested waters of the strategic and resource-rich South China Sea.
Marcos's relations with the United States are complicated by a contempt of court order for his refusal to co-operate with the District Court of Hawaii, which in 1995 ordered the Marcos family to pay $2 billion of plundered wealth to victims of Marcos Sr.'s rule.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina and Simon Lewis; Editing by Mark Porter and David Gregorio)