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Talks Continue Over U.S. Bases in Philippines

From Associated Press

U.S. and Philippine negotiators continued talks through the night Friday in hopes of drafting a new treaty to maintain U.S. military bases here.

Many Philippine senators whose votes are needed to ratify a treaty oppose extending the lease on the U.S. facilities. The Philippine defense secretary has said he supports keeping the bases.

U.S. spokesman Stanley Schrager said the two sides hoped to arrive at a “tentative agreement.” Chief U.S. negotiator Richard Armitage postponed his departure, set for Friday, and officials scheduled a press briefing for today.

Any agreement must be approved by two-thirds of the 23-member Philippine Senate. Sen. Wigberto Tanada, the leading opponent, claims he has enough votes to kill the treaty.

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The talks, which began last May, focus on the status of Clark Air Base and the Subic Bay naval base--two of the largest and oldest U.S. bases on foreign soil--along with four small installations. The current lease expires in September.

About 40,000 U.S. military personnel and dependents live in the Philippines.

U.S. officials consider the bases the linchpin of American defense of the Far East. Thousands of Filipinos have rallied to get the bases closed as an expression of national independence. But others depend on the installations for their livelihood.

Philippine negotiators say they want to take over Clark and the four smaller facilities by September and allow a five-year phaseout at Subic. The United States wants a 10- to 12-year transition period.

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Sources close to the talks said the Americans offered $510 million in compensation to use the bases in 1992. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Manila asked for $800 million annually if the bases remain seven more years.


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