The Philippines broke off talks Tuesday with the United States on U.S. military bases, and Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus said differences over compensation were so wide he doubted the talks could be revived.
Manglapus made the remark to reporters after a meeting with President Corazon Aquino during which he informed her the nearly 4-month-old talks were suspended indefinitely."I don't know whether the talks can resume . . . but right now, our positions are so far apart that I don't think we can resume," he said.
Manglapus, head of the Philippine panel in the negotiations, said Aquino "realizes that our position is a reasonable one and that we should stick to it." He declined to elaborate, saying revealing more details could create more difficulties.
The Manila government is pressing for an increase in the $180 million it receives annually from Washington for use of the bases. Before the talks began, Manglapus said $1.2 billion annually would be "more realistic."
The talks are held every five years to review terms of the 1947 agreement allowing the United States to maintain Clark Air Base, Subic Bay Naval Base and four smaller installations.
U.S. spokeswoman Mary Carlin Yates told The Associated Press in a telephone interview the break was temporary and the U.S. side, headed by Ambassador Nicholas Platt, expects the talks to resume shortly.
She denied the U.S. panel approved a statement described as a joint statement and read to reporters. It said: "There was a substantial disagreement on the compensation issue, as a result of which the (Philippine) panel moved for the suspension of the talks."
"As has happened several times in the past, there has been a temporary break in the talks," Yates said. "We do not consider the talks suspended. Such temporary breaks occur from time to time, particularly when one side needs time to consider a proposal from the other."
During previous interruptions, however, neither side had described the talks as "suspended." In previous instances, spokesmen for both sides said talks had been temporarily recessed because of foreign travel by negotiators or to allow time to study proposals.
On Monday, Manglapus said that the two panels were nearing agreement but that they may not complete the negotiations by an end-of-the-month deadline. The talks had initially been scheduled to end during the first week of July.
U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz has said the United States did not oppose an increase in compensation but would not agree to paying any "staggering amount."
The talks do not directly affect the status of the bases after 1991, but a successful review is widely expected to influence Manila's decision on whether to extend the agreement. Aquino has refused to discussher position.
Meanwhile, the communist-led National Democratic Front accused Aquino of maneuvering for "an impending sellout of our national sovereignty and interests."