PH, US agree to restart joint maritime patrols in South China Sea
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States have agreed to restart joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea in light of the “shared regional security challenges” that both countries face.
The decision was reached during the meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III and Department of National Defense chief Carlito Galvez Jr., according to the readout issued by the US Department of Defense on Friday.
“Both leaders exchanged views on shared regional security challenges in the Indo-Pacific and underscored the importance of close operational coordination,” the readout stated.
“The two leaders agreed to restart joint maritime patrols in the South China Sea to help address these challenges,” it added.
Both countries also reaffirmed the Mutual Defense Treaty with China’s continued assertiveness in the regional waters in mind.
Austin, in a press conference Thursday, said the treaty between longtime allies is particularly important as China “continues to advance its illegitimate claims” in the West Philippine Sea.
The Philippines has also granted the US access to more of its military bases after both countries agreed to four additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites in the country.
Galvez did not divulge the location of the four new sites, but military officials have already previously identified Zambales, Cagayan, Isabela, and Palawan as possible sites. These areas face either the West Philippine Sea or Taiwan, the country’s closest northern neighbor.
Meanwhile, Austin and Galvez agreed to meet again in Spring 2023 at a Ministerial-level 2+2 meeting in Washington, D.C.
Military names 5 more Edca sites
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