President Corazon Aquino said Thursday a successful conclusion to long-running talks on the operation of strategic U.S. bases in the Philippines is in sight after discussions with a senior U.S. official.
Michael Armacost, undersecretary of state for political affairs, also expressed optimism after a 40-minute call to discuss the stalled negotiations at the presidential palace.Details of the meeting with Aquino were not disclosed. Armacost said Philippine Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus and Gaston Sigur, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, continued talks on the bases in New York later.
Aquino told palace reporters that Manglapus "sounded very optimistic and confident" in a morning telephone call Thursday from New York.
"He told me that things are moving. They all point to a successful end of the review talks," she said, adding Manglapus would deliver a full report when he returns to Manila on Oct. 11 or 12.
"The differences are narrowing and progress was being made and the hope was there for an early conclusion," Armacost told reporters. Asked if he expects the talks to be completed this month, Armacost said, "I certainly hope they will be."
Aquino "seemed to share the hope that there will be good news, and soon," said Armacost, who arrived Wednesday for a three-day visit to review Philippine-U.S. ties. He was accompanied by Ambassador Nicholas Platt at the palace.
Negotiations, which started in April, on arrangements in the final years of the 1947 agreement covering Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base have been stalled over compensation.
The Philippines is seeking $1.2 billion in each of the last two years of the treaty expiring in 1992, up from the $180 million in aid Washington provides annually.
An agreement in the current negotiations is expected to lead to an extension of the treaty on America's oldest and largest overseas bases.