George W. Bush photo

Remarks Following a Meeting With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines

June 24, 2008

President Bush. Madam President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office. We have just had a very constructive dialogue. First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that—in which there's a lot of Philippine Americans. They love America, and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the—of our Philippine Americans when I eat dinner at the White House. [Laughter]

President Macapagal-Arroyo. Yes.

President Bush. And the chef is a great person and a really good cook, by the way, Madam President.

President Macapagal-Arroyo. Thank you.

President Bush. We talked about our friendship, our bilateral relations, and we spent some time on foreign policy.

First, I expressed our deep condolences to those who suffered as a result of the typhoon. And I know there's some families that are hurting. Some are wondering whether or not their loved ones will, you know, reappear. We, the American people, care about the human suffering that's taking place, and we send our prayers.

Secondly, I informed the President—Secretary Gates informed the President, through me, that the United States will move the USS Ronald Reagan, a large aircraft carrier, to help with the assistance, along with other U.S. Navy assets. Madam President, we're happy to do it. We want to help our friends in a time of need.

We talked about, you know, food, and I assured the President we'll continue to help. We helped with rice in the past. And, you know, I'm proud of my country. We give a lot of food aid. And this is a time where America needs to step up, and we will, Madam President.

We talked about our mutual desire to advance—how important it is to move forward bilateral and multilateral trade agendas. I'm a—I believe trade is beneficial to both our countries. I'm hopeful we can get a Doha round done; we strategized together about how we can move the process.

I congratulated the President on her strong stand on counterterrorism—more than strong stand—effective stand on counterterrorism as well as laying out a vision for peace. The President's been very strong in having a carrots-and-sticks approach. "Sticks," of course, say we're not going to allow for people to terrorize our citizens; the "carrot" approach is that there's peace available.

And we talked about Burma—the area, the region. The President's been a very strong leader when it comes to the freedom agenda and human dignity.

And so all in all, we had a very constructive talk. I'm proud you're here.

President Macapagal-Arroyo. Thank you.

President Bush. Thanks for coming.

President Macapagal-Arroyo. Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President, with your permission, I'd like to address our countrymen in our native language.

[At this point, President Macapagal-Arroyo spoke in Tagalog, and her remarks were translated as follows.]

Interpreter. Fellow countrymen, America is a strong ally in supporting our efforts to strengthen our economy and reinforce our democracy. The Philippines and the United States have a strong relationship, and we are here today to discuss important bilateral issues with President Bush, members of his administration, and congressional leaders. As President Bush mentioned, we will focus our discussions, now more than ever, on food shortages, defense cooperation, and economic aid. Together with our friends, such as America, let us join forces and move our country forward towards the company of First World, developed nations over the next 20 years.

Long live the Philippines, and long live the friendship between the Philippines and the United States.

President Bush. I couldn't have said it better myself. [Laughter] Thank you, Madam President.

President Macapagal-Arroyo. Thank you. Thank you.

President Bush. Thank you all.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:25 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford.

George W. Bush, Remarks Following a Meeting With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of the Philippines Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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