U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris landed in the Philippines on Sunday for discussions aimed at rekindling relations with the former colony, an Asian ally that is crucial to U.S. attempts to offset China’s more aggressive policies towards Taiwan, Reuters reported.
As the Biden administration works to strengthen ties with allies concerned about China’s rising influence in Southeast Asia and potential confrontation over Taiwan, the self-governing island China claims as its own, Harris, who will meet President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., travels to the area.
Earlier, Harris said that she had conveyed to Chinese President Xi Jinping, whom she had seen on Saturday at the APEC conference in Thailand, that Washington did not desire to engage in conflict with China.
Her visit, which signals a significant improvement in ties, will be the highest-level visit to the Philippines by a government official.
The Biden administration is trying a reset with Marcos in power.
According to a source familiar with the contact, Biden called Marcos the evening after his election was declared to offer his congratulations while generally avoiding contentious subjects.
According to a U.S. official, Biden also sent Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, to Marcos’ June inauguration with a personalized, signed letter in which he expressed his desire to welcome Marcos to the country.
The leaders are anticipated to talk about Taiwan and the South China Sea as well as compare notes on Marcos’ and Biden’s meetings with Xi on Thursday and Monday, respectively.
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