U.S., Philippines agree to deepen defense cooperation

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Philippine counterpart have agreed to deepen cooperation as part of their countries’ bilateral alliance.

Austin spoke with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana at the Pentagon on Monday, keeping in mind China’s increased military activity in the South China Sea.

The US Department of Defense released a statement saying, “The secretaries affirmed the enduring nature of the alliance, as well as the vital importance of ensuring peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

He said “Austin reiterated that the American commitment to the security of the Philippines is ironclad” and that “United States Mutual Defense Treaty commitments extend to the Philippine armed forces, government vessels and aircraft. in the South China Sea”.

He said the secretaries had agreed to advance the defense partnership, for example by improving maritime coordination and information sharing.

Earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping struck the Philippines as Washington and Manila wrapped up one of their largest joint military exercises.

Xi told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in a phone conversation that regional security cannot be achieved by strengthening military alliances.

It is believed that the United States and the Philippines want to emphasize their solidarity by reconfirming their intention to deepen defense cooperation.