November 28, 2022

UNITED States Vice President Kamala Harris is set to launch a wide range of initiatives to strengthen the bilateral ties between Washington and Manila, including a “123 agreement” negotiation for civil nuclear energy cooperation in the Philippines.

A White House senior administration official, in a background briefing, said Harris will have separate bilateral meetings with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio today, Monday.

Later in the day, she will meet with Filipina human rights activists and civil society leaders.

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“The Vice President will tell President Marcos that we are pleased to see our security ties in such a strong position, and we want to similarly strengthen our economic and investment relationship,” the official said. “Overall, I would say, this visit is about strengthening our bilateral relationship with the Philippines in recognition of our long history as friends, allies, and partners.”

The official noted that the Philippines “is interested in partnering with us on small modular reactors and other advanced technology.”

“So the Vice President will announce that our countries are initiating negotiations on a ‘123 Agreement,’ an agreement that will allow for civil nuclear cooperation,” he said.

The agreement, once in force, “will allow US companies to export nuclear equipment, creating significant new commercial opportunities for our private sector,” the official said. “This will also help the Philippines develop its energy security and transition to clean energy.”

Harris, the official said, will “reaffirm the strength of the alliance and our commitment to upholding the international rules-based order in the South China Sea and the broader Indo-Pacific.”

“She’ll reaffirm our defense commitments under the mutual defense treaty with the Philippines and our support for the 2016 UN arbitral tribunal ruling that rejected China’s expansive maritime claims,” he said.

“She’ll have more to say about this when she visits Palawan, but the Vice President will underscore our commitment to stand up for international rules and norms because we recognize the impact that has on Philippine lives and livelihoods. In addition to that, as an outcome of the Vice President’s visit to Manila, we are strengthening our security cooperation related to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or Edca,” he added.