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US and Philippines Talk About Increasing Maritime Cooperation in the South China Sea

According to the US Department of Defense, discussions are underway to enhance the frequency of joint patrols and combined marine operations between the US and the Philippines to assist the legal exercise of the Philippines’ rights in the South China Sea.

President Marcos and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III met, and the main topics of conversation were how to improve operational collaboration and bilateral planning. Additionally, the leaders decided to quicken a number of bilateral projects meant to strengthen the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capacity, interoperability, and information-sharing.

The marine cooperative activity including Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and the US on April 7 within the Philippine exclusive economic zone was applauded by both sides. This endeavor is a prime example of the increasing cooperation between states that share the same values, such as respect for territorial sovereignty, freedom of the seas, and the rule of law.

Austin emphasized that the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty covers both nations’ armed forces, public vessels, aircraft, and Coast Guard units in the Pacific, including the South China Sea, and reaffirmed US support for the Philippines in preserving its sovereign rights and authority.

The leaders’ second meeting in less than a year took place at the Pentagon, where they reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to working together as friends to promote more security, prosperity, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Austin and Marcos emphasized the solid historical basis of the US-Philippines alliance, which they are bringing up to date in order to conform to a common understanding of an open and free Indo-Pacific area. They said they were in favor of extending alliance projects in order to improve interoperability.

Austin also brought up President Biden’s fiscal year 2025 budget request, which calls for $128 million to be allocated to 36 projects at locations under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. With this financing, the AFP’s modernization activities will have a substantial boost in assistance.

The meeting, which was attended by National Security Advisor Eduardo Año, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr., highlights how thorough US-Philippines security cooperation is.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Austin, Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and their Philippine counterparts reiterated their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific following bilateral meetings and the Japan-Philippines-US Trilateral Leaders’ Summit. They also talked about ways to coordinate more closely in order to address common issues in the South China Sea.

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