BANGKOK (AP) – A top United States (US) State Department official met yesterday with Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr in Manila, part of an ongoing diplomatic outreach in the Asia-Pacific region by Washington to try and blunt growing Chinese influence.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman tweeted after meeting Marcos that the two discussed a range of issues, including the Philippines-US alliance, deepening economic ties, advancing human rights and “preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Marcos, the son of longtime Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr who was ousted in a popular uprising in 1986, was elected in a landslide last month, alarming human rights activists and pro-democracy groups.
The US appears prepared to work with him, with US President Joe Biden being one of the first world leaders to call Marcos and congratulate him on his electoral victory.
Further details on his meeting with Sherman were not immediately available, but her trip comes as part of a broader effort to reach out in person to leaders in the region as concern increases over China’s push to expand its own influence in a strategically critical area.
Sherman is also making stops in South Korea, Laos and Vietnam.
US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet is also in the region, meeting with officials in Thailand, Singapore and Brunei.
The State Department said the two trips highlight American commitment to the ASEAN as well as Washington’s bilateral partnerships.