Weinberger to Meet Aquino and Philippine Military Leaders
Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger arrived Sunday night for an 18-hour state visit to the Philippines that will include the first meeting between President Corazon Aquino and a member of President Reagan’s Cabinet in the six weeks since her government took power.
Weinberger will also meet with top Philippine military leaders today to discuss the future of American military aid here and assess the continuing rebellion by Communist insurgents, which some Pentagon analysts fear could threaten the security of America’s two large military bases north of Manila.
The bases will not be a major issue in Weinberger’s talks with Aquino, according to a Defense Department spokesman, who said that Weinberger believes the future of the bases is secure, at least until the agreement with the Philippine government expires in 1991.
Aquino said during her presidential campaign earlier this year that she will allow the bases to remain at least until 1991 and that she will set up a committee to prepare for negotiations with U.S. officials on a new agreement later this decade.
Under the present agreement covering Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base, the Reagan Administration has pledged to provide $425 million in military aid and credits for military purchases by the Philippine government. Much of that money has not yet been earmarked, and Weinberger will meet over lunch today with Philippine Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile to explore how that money should be spent.
Weinberger plans to leave here this afternoon for Thailand.