President Corazon Aquino, in her first statement setting out the future of U.S. military bases, said Saturday that Washington could keep the bases for seven years if it is willing to meet Manila's price.
Aquino issued the statement after talks on the future of the six bases in the Philippines wound up deadlocked over how much Washington will pay and how long the installations can stay.U.S. spokesman Stanley Schrager said technical committees will meet Monday in Manila to iron out the status of the 40,000 troops, military dependents and civilian employees at the six bases. He said "technical consultations" would resume in Washington later this month.
"The Philippines has expressed its willingness to host American military forces for a maximum of seven years," Aquino said. "We have stressed our need for immediate and sizable capital infusion."
The latest round of talks had been scheduled to end Friday but lasted into the night in an effort to reach an accord. Chief U.S. negotiator Richard Armitage postponed his departure to allow more time.
Both sides expressed optimism that an accord could be reached despite differences on a few key issues.
At stake is the future of Clark Air Base, the Subic Bay naval base and four smaller facilities whose lease expires Sept. 16. The bases are among the oldest and largest U.S. installations on foreign soil.
A spokesman for the Philippine delegation, Raul Rabe, said Manila wanted $825 million a year for a seven-year package ending in 1998, the 100th anniversary of the U.S. annexation of the Philippines from Spain.
He said the United States had offered $520 million yearly, including $200 million as part of a multilateral aid program for the Philippines and development assistance.
Rabe said the Philippines was willing to accept $400 million in cash and the rest in non-budgetary assistance such as debt relief and increased trade access to the United States.