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‘US to pay reef damages’

By Sara Susanne D. Fabunan | Feb. 15, 2013 at 12:02am
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States government is ready to “fully and appropriately provide compensation for all damages” caused by the grounding on the Tubbataha reef, said Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario.

Base from their phone conversation Wednesday night, Del Rosario said Kerry assured full cooperation in salvaging the USS Guardian which ran aground in January.

“One of the first things we discussed was the USS Guardian incident.  We had a very frank discussion between friends.  We both agreed on the importance of removing the USS Guardian from the reef without causing further damage,” Del Rosario said in a statement released Thursday.

“Secretary Kerry reiterated the deep regret of the US government over the incident and its readiness to provide full and appropriate compensation,” he added.

“Secretary Kerry said that he himself wants to know and get to the bottom of what truly happened. In this context he said that he wants to be a full partner of the Philippines in finding out what happened and that the U.S. government will cooperate fully with the investigation that the Philippines is conducting.”

Del Rosario said Kerry is also committed to share the US Navy’s findings and consult the Philippines and its expert before finalizing its report.

“We both agreed that it is important to understand what happened and to take the necessary navigational safety measures to protect the reef and that would prevent other ships from grounding there,” he said.

“I would like to assure the public that every effort will be made to obtain proper compensation.  We also are of the view that a long term commitment of resources by the United States to the future well being of the reef is important, on top of the issue of compensation.”
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