US, Philippines agree on larger American military presence
The United States and the Philippines announced on Thursday an agreement to expand American military presence in the Southeast Asian country, where U.S. forces would be granted access to four more Philippine military camps, effectively giving them new ground to ramp up deterrence against China's increasingly aggressive actions toward Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea.
The agreement between the longtime treaty allies under a 2014 defense pact was made public during the visit of U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
The allied nations also said in a joint statement that "substantial" progress has been made in projects at five Philippine military camps, where U.S. military personnel were earlier granted access by Filipino officials under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA. Construction of American facilities are currently underway.
Austin briefly met with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who has taken steps to nurture closer ties with Washington since taking office in June, and would later meet with his Philippine counterpart, Carlito Galvez Jr., about Washington's plan to expand its military presence in the country.
"The EDCA is a key pillar of the US-Philippines alliance, which supports combined training, exercises, and interoperability between our forces," the U.S. and the Philippines said.
The allies said "the addition of these new EDCA locations will allow more rapid support for humanitarian and climate-related disasters in the Philippines, and respond to other shared challenges."
No details were immediately given about the agreement, including the location of the four Philippine camps where U.S. forces would be allowed to construct barracks, warehouses and hangars, but Philippine military and...
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