Manila says alliance with United States is ‘rock solid’

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin meet for the first time during the latter’s visit to Manila. - Courtesy of DFA Sec Enrique Manalo

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network): The Philippine-United States (US) alliance is “rock solid,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said on Friday (Feb 3).

Manalo made the remark after he met with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, who visited Manila.

“I had a very good first meeting with [Defence Secretary] Austin. There’s no doubt — PH-US Alliance is rock solid,” Manalo posted on Twitter.

“We identified key initiatives to improve mutual understanding of our priorities & challenges and to strengthen our relationship in ways that would secure our peoples,” he added.

Austin, meanwhile, stressed that the US “remains determined to support regional peace & prosperity in the [Indo-Pacific].”

“We deeply value our ironclad alliance & working shoulder-to-shoulder with such an indispensable ally & friend,” the US official wrote on Twitter.

During Austin’s visit, the Philippines and the US agreed to have four new additional Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (Edca) sites across the archipelago.

The Philippine Department of National Defense said that the “expansion of the Edca will make our alliance stronger and more resilient and will accelerate the modernization of our combined military capabilities.”

Meanwhile, China said that US actions “escalate regional tension and undermine regional peace and stability.”

The Philippines and China have an ongoing maritime row in the West Philippine Sea.

In 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that the Philippines has rights on the West Philippine Sea, invalidating China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea.

Despite the ruling, Filipino fishers continue to experience aggression and harassment by China.

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Philippines , US , cooperation


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