Military help

For her part, Arroyo, the first Southeast Asian leader to visit the US since Obama took office, thanked the US for economic assistance and its help with the Philippine armed forces.

"We are very thankful for the US as an important ally in helping to professionalise our military and making it more effective," she said.

"Just as important, we are thankful to the US for being such a good ally ... working on soft power, by helping us build bridges, roads, schools, not only in Mindanao, but across the nation."

Arroyo said that US help has enabled Manila to make progress in efforts towards a negotiated peace in Mindanao, where fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayyaf hold bases.

"This assistance of the US has gone a long way in helping us to achieve what we have been able to achieve in the peace process in Mindanao, in southern Philippines, and also in our fight against terrorism," she said.

Arroyo also praised the Obama administration's stance on climate change.