Defense chief confirms Washington Post report on PH-US talks | Global News

Defense chief confirms Washington Post report on PH-US talks

/ 04:17 PM January 26, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin on Thursday confirmed that there are ongoing talks between the Philippines and the United States but termed these as “strategic defense dialogues.”

According to Gazmin, the talks are expected to end either on January28 or 29. The confirmation came after Washington Post ran a story saying that there are talks between the two governments aimed at increasing the presence of US military troops in the Philippines following China’s aggressive movements in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

“Ang layunin ay magpalitan ng mga impormasyon; titingnan kung mapapalakas pa ’yong ating relasyon sa isa’t-isa. Unang-una, paano tayo matutulungan sa ating problema sa pag-gaguwardiya ng ating mga teritoryo na hindi natin nagagawa sapagka’t kulang tayo sa mga kagamitan (The objective [of these talks] is the exchange of information; we will see if we can further enhance our ties. First of all, how we can be helped with our territorial defense which we cannot do because we lack equipment),” Gazmin said.


Gazmin admitted that the US wants to have an increased presence in the region, hence the establishment of a base in Australia and plans to dock ships in Singapore. However, the Defense chief allayed fears of some sectors on the planned increased presence of US soldiers in the Philippines, saying that everything will still be in accordance with the Visiting Forces Agreement.


He added that the talks are also in preparation for the coming US-RP Balikatan joint exercises and will cover how many troops from both militaries will be joining, what equipment will be needed.

He added that the presence of US military forces will be very beneficial for the Philippines since troops will learn how to use modern military equipment and enhance their skills. Likewise, there will be exchange of military information and operational techniques, Gazmin said.

The VFA allows 600 US troops to stay in the Philippines. The VFA also allows some special cases when US troops in the region are permitted to dock in Manila to replenish their supplies and give their soldiers the opportunity to rest and relax but this is only for a limited period, Gazmin said.

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TAGS: Diplomacy, international (foreign) relations, Philippines, Talks, US

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