US, Philippine presidents have talks at White House
 
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U.S. President Bill Clinton had negotiations with Philippine President Fidel Ramos at the White House on Friday to discuss the financial crisis in Asia and problems inherited from the war times. The U.S. president paid tribute to Ramos for the fulfillment of democratic and economic reforms, a White House spokesman said. After the meeting, Ramos described the Philippines and the United States as loyal friends but noted a number of economic problems in the bilateral relations. He regrets that his country has not become an equal trade partner of the United States. The pronouncement was estimated by observers as the wish to have a broader access to the American markets. In the words of Ramos, he gained support of the American president in the two bilateral problems -- the return of two church bells seized by the United States as a trophy during the war of 1899-1901 and benefits for Philippine veterans of the Second World War. The return of the bells is very important for the Philippines that will mark the 100th anniversary of its independence from Spain this year. The bells were taken off from two churches on the island of Samar, where American troops killed thousands of civilians. The bells are kept in a war memorial in Wyoming. However, the return is strongly opposed by American veterans. The Congress is drafting a law to prohibit the return of any items from American war memorials to foreign states. Although the bilateral relations were darkened by the Philippine-American war at the beginning of the century, the two countries have progressed a lot since then, Ramos said. In his words, the countries are holding consultations on the complaints of about 1,600 Philippine veterans who fought together with Americans in the Second World War but still do not have medical and other benefits. The day before Ramos had a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen to discuss the American use of the Philippine territory for military drills. Earlier this year the sides ... Read more
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