India ready to back PH in boosting defense, says envoy
MANILA, Philippines—India is ready to help boost the Philippines’ defenses and make it a ‘strong and resilient’ nation in the Indo-Pacific region.
India’s ambassador to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran on Wednesday (March 10) confirmed a Hindustan Times report in late 2020 that his country had offered a $100 million soft loan for Philippine defense needs.
“$100 million is an indicative amount. We could look at larger amount in case the Philippines is looking at platforms from India,” the ambassador said in an interview with ABS CBN News Channel.
He did not explicitly say, however, if the loan was related to the Philippines’ planned acquisition of BrahMos supersonic missiles, which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana had been bringing up in the last few years.
“The Prime Minister did make an offer on a line of credit, a soft loan. It’s still on the table. It’s not been linked to any platform purchase yet,” Kumaran said.
“We’re having a wider discussion with Secretary Lorenzana and his team. I believe that there are a lot of requirements that they need to prioritize. We hope that one of those priority items would involve a relationship with India,” he said.
Last week, the Philippines and India signed a defense pact that would pave the way for the purchase of Indian defense equipment, which could likely include the supersonic cruise missiles.
“We are very committed to moving ahead on any area that the Philippines would like to do…India would like to see a strong and resilient Philippines in the Indo-Pacific. That is in our mutual interest and we would work together to ensure that,” Kumaran said.
He cited “shared concerns” in India’s interest to support the Philippines in having an improved defense infrastructure.
The purchase of the BrahMos PJ-10, the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missiles, would boost the Philippines’ coastal defenses amid Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
India is also trying to push back against Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean and parts of Southeast Asia.
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