Security no longer dominates US-Philippine relations



WASHINGTON (AP)—President Clinton and Philippine President Fidel Ramos pledged ‘‘a new partnership’‘ based on expanding trade Monday, steering U.S.-Philippine relations away from the once-dominant issues of aid and security.

They also pledged to complete an extradition treaty, long delayed amid tension over U.S. bases negotiations and concern for human rights.

The White House meeting continued Clinton’s focus on Asia following his meeting with Asia-Pacific leaders in Seattle last week and marked the end of Ramos’ two-week investment-seeking tour of the United States.

Clinton, at a joint news conference, said the pullout of U.S. bases in the Philippines and the end of the Cold War have not changed the ‘‘basis for cooperation between our two countries.

‘‘We’ve now begun a renewed partnership, based on our long historical association, our shared values, our expanding trade and our investment links, our bilateral security cooperation and our common dedication to democracy and human rights,’‘ Clinton said.

Changes in both countries ‘‘have made it necessary and desirable for both of us to embark on a new partnership,’‘ Ramos said.

The two presidents said they had agreed to negotiate a bilateral extradition treaty, which has been proposed for decades. Ramos said it was not possible during the 20-year rule of the late Ferdinand Marcos, because so many Filipinos were fleeing repression.

Little progress on the issue was made during the six-year presidency of Corazon Aquino, during which relations were dominated by unsuccessful military bases negotiations, ending with Philippine Senate rejection of U.S. basing ights.

Clinton said he and Ramos did not discuss the extradition treaty in detail. ‘‘We want to leave that to our negotiators. I think what President Ramos wanted to know was whether I was willing to do it, and the answer is I’m very much willing to do it. And I believe we will succeed.’‘

Clinton and Ramos also agreed to negotiate a mutual legal assistance accord to ease exchanges of evidence in criminal cases.

The two leaders ‘‘hardly discussed aid at all,’‘ Ramos said, ‘‘but the main focus of our discussion was economic cooperation which would result in more investment and trade in the Philippines and within Asia and the Pacific.’‘

Clinton thanked Ramos for maintaining ‘‘close security cooperation’‘ with America, with no reference to aid reductions or lingering bitterness in the U.S. Congress over the forced dismantling of U.S. air and navy bases.

Ramos said he raised concern for Philippine veterans seeking U.S. benefits, and Clinton said ‘‘I agreed that we will continue looking at ways and means to make it right for the Filipino veterans of World War II.’‘

Ramos, a 1950 West Point graduate and former Philippine military chief and defense minister, heads home from San Francisco on Tuesday. He said a newly purchased Philippine Airlines Boeing 747-400 airliner will land him at the former U.S. Subic Bay naval base to dramatize the base’s conversion to a commercial freeport.