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U.S., Philippine Officials Narrow Gap on Bases Accord

Associated Press

Philippine and U.S. officials said Thursday they have narrowed differences over U.S. military bases here and are nearing agreement on their status through 1991.

President Corazon Aquino and Undersecretary of State Michael H. Armacost gave the assessment after a 45-minute meeting, which the U.S. official described as a “very good talk.”

Filipino and American panels began talks last April on the status of Clark Air Base, the Subic Bay Naval Base and four smaller installations. But the talks have stalled over compensation and other issues.

Armacost told reporters after the meeting that Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus and Assistant Secretary of State Gaston Sigur met Wednesday in New York on the bases issues.

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“Progress is being made and the hope was there for an early agreement,” he said.

In a statement to Filipino reporters later, Aquino said she received a call from Manglapus today and that “he sounded very optimistic and confident.”

The United States maintains the bases under a 1947 agreement that expires in 1991. The current talks are to determine compensation and other issues through the final two years of the agreement.

After that, any extension must be approved by two-thirds of the 23-member Philippine Senate, where opposition to the bases is strong. Aquino refuses to say whether she will support an extension.

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