Officials expressed skepticism Saturday over Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's proposal to close Moscow's military bases in Vietnam if the United States shuts down its facilities in the Philippines.
Gorbachev suggested Friday that the Soviet Union abandon its facilities at Cam Ranh Bay and Danang in Vietnam in exchange for the United States' closing of Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval complex."Gorbachev's offer is mainly directed to the domestic audience in the Philippines to bolster the anti-U.S. bases constitutency in the Philippines," said Sen. John Osmena.
"Subic and Clark are far bigger complexes than Cam Ranh Bay and Danang. What he (Gorbachev) is offering is not comparable," said Sen. Leticia Shahani, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
President Corazon Aquino declined comment on the Soviet leader's proposal. "That is for the two superpowers to discuss and talk about," she told reporters.
"We always welcome a diminution of tension in the region," said Osmena, who favors retention of the U.S. facilities.
"However, Clark and Subic are not at parity with the Soviet facilities in Cam Ranh Bay and Danang. So if there should be a tradeoff, it should be on a region-wide basis," he said.
Cam Ranh Bay is the Soviet Union's largest warm-water naval station outside Soviet territory, serving about 25 ships positioned in the China Sea.
The Philippines and the United States are currently negotiating administrative and financial arrangements for the last two years of the 41-year-old treaty covering Clark and Subic.