WHITE HOUSE ANNOUNCES GMA STATE VISIT

Manila, May 10, 2003 -- The White House yesterday announced that President 
George W. Bush would welcome President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for a state 
visit to Washington, D.C. on May 19, saying that it is an expression of 
gratitude to the country's support to the US in the global fight against 
terrorism.

In a press briefing at the White House, Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said 
that President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush would host a state dinner at 
the White House in honor of the visiting President.

During the visit, the two leaders would also hold bilateral talks at the 
Oval Office.

The President's state visit to the United States was originally scheduled 
last April but this was postponed due to the outbreak of the war in Iraq.

"The Philippines is a close friend and stalwart ally in the war on terror, 
and the President and the First Lady will host the (Philippine) President 
for a state visit and a state dinner later that evening," Fleischer said.

Fleischer said that by hosting the state visit, President Bush just wanted 
to express the gratitude and appreciation of the American people and 
himself to President Arroyo and to the Filipino people.

According to Fleischer, the President's state visit is only the third that 
President Bush has hosted since he assumed office in 2001. Bush earlier 
received as state visitors only the leaders of Mexico and Poland.

When asked why the Philippine President is being given this "rare honor" of 
being welcomed for a state visit, Fleischer said: "This is the President's 
way of saying, thank you, to the government of the Philippines, to 
President Arroyo and to the people of the Philippines for their stalwart 
efforts in fighting the war on terror, for being such a good and reliable 
ally to the United States."

The President was one of the first world leaders who supported the US-led 
global campaign against terrorism launched after the September 11, 2001 
attacks.

The Philippines was also a member of the US-led "coalition of the willing" 
in the war in Iraq although it did not send combat troops.

Fleischer said the Philippines is an area of the world that has not 
received much notice in the fight against terrorism because the focus was 
on Afghanistan or Iraq or other places.

"The Philippines have suffered mightily at the hands of terrorists, and the 
Philippine government and President Arroyo have shown great courage in 
taking on the terrorists inside the Philippines, and particularly on some 
of the more remote islands in the Philippines," Fleischer said, referring 
to the terrorist Abu Sayyaf in Mindanao.

Last year, the US sent about 1,000 special forces to help train Philippine 
police and military authorities in fighting the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan and 
Zamboanga under the Balikatan 02-1.

The Balikatan 03-1, also to be participated in by US special forces, is 
scheduled to be held sometime this year in Jolo.

The President's state visit to the US has a four-fold objective, namely: to 
further enhance RP-US cooperation in security and counter-terrorism; to 
expand trade and investment cooperation; to highlight importance of the 
Philippines to US political and business leaders; and to advance the 
welfare of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the US.

This will be the second time that the President would meet with President 
Bush at the White House.

On Nov. 20, 2001, President Bush also received the President at the White 
House during a working visit to the US.

The two leaders also met at the 10th Economic Leaders' Meeting of the Asia 
Pacific Economic Cooperation held last October 27, 2002 at Los Cabos, 
Mexico. (Malacanang News Release)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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