United States Seventh Fleet commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas during a courtesy visit to the provincial government of Palawan on August 8. (Photo courtesy of the Palawan Provincial Information Office)

United States 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Karl Thomas met with key officials of the provincial government on Tuesday to exchange ideas and consult on various concerns concerning mutual defense cooperation.

The Provincial Information Office said in a statement Wednesday that the commander of one of the largest forward-deployed U.S. fleets met with key representatives of Governor Victorino Dennis Socrates — Provincial Legal Officer Atty. Joshua Bolusa, Provincial Tourism Promotions and Development Officer Maribel Buñi, and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff Acting Director Niño Estoya.

Thomas discussed with them the core objective of their courtesy visit, which includes strengthening existing mutual defense cooperation and partnership, including those that will be addressed in the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board.

He underscored the significance of transparent dialogue with allies, and conveyed his enthusiasm to deepen ties with the city and the province, with goals of enhancing economic development and bolstering logistical backing.

“Having open lines of communication with our partners and allies is vital to our lasting commitments and strong presence in the region (…) We look forward to continuing relationship and alliance with Puerto Princesa [City] and Palawan, to bring more economic growth and logistics,” he said.

Thomas also met with Western Command (WESCOM) commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos, who rendered arrival honors also on Tuesday at Camp General Artemio Ricarte in the city.

According to a statement from WESCOM, Carlos and Thomas discussed enhancing collaboration between the U.S. 7th Fleet and WESCOM, underscoring the United States’ steadfast support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

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