The White House, Washington D.C. USA
30 July 2009

Describing her counterpart as “warm, cordial and welcoming,” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo formally met United States President Barack Obama at the Oval Office of the White House past 3 o’clock in the afternoon (Washington D.C. time) today.

In their forty-minute meeting, President Arroyo expressed her gratitude to the US President for the passage of a bill granting the release of lump sum benefits and recognizing the military service of Filipino World War II veterans. She called for a strengthening of military cooperation between the two countries to counter-terrorism and pursue the peace process and development programs in Mindanao.

She also encouraged President Obama to expand trade relations with the Philippines as she targets the increased export of bananas, garments & carageenan to the United States. President Arroyo likewise called on the US President to take the lead in implementing policies and programs that will reduce climate change.

For his part, President Obama commended the Philippines’ Chief Executive for her sound economic policies that mitigated the impact of the global financial crisis within the country. He recognized the four million Filipinos living in the United States and their contributions to the nation’s economy.

He cited the peace process being pursued by the government in Mindanao and formally announced the designation of the Philippines as the coordinating center of the United States in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN.

President Obama also mentioned that he was impressed by President Arroyo’s “personal charm.”

As a token of appreciation, President Arroyo gave pearl cufflinks to President Obama and pearl brooch to the US First Lady.

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