Philippines may allow U.S. greater military access: minister

MANILA Fri Apr 5, 2013 4:13am EDT

Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario (3rd-R) and U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas (3rd-L) link arms with other military officials during the opening ceremony of annual Philippines-U.S. military exercise dubbed as ''Balikatan'' (shoulder to shoulder) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, Metro Manila April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario (3rd-R) and U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas (3rd-L) link arms with other military officials during the opening ceremony of annual Philippines-U.S. military exercise dubbed as ''Balikatan'' (shoulder to shoulder) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, Metro Manila April 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Erik De Castro

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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines is ready to help the United States as it aligns its defenses against threatened attacks by North Korea, the foreign minister said, hinting at the possibility of opening more Philippine bases to the U.S. military.

U.S. forces have previously used military bases and civilian airports in the Philippines to repair and refuel aircraft and warships deployed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. has ships in Subic, the former home of the U.S. 7th Fleet, and aircraft at the nearby Clark airfield, another former U.S. base on the main island of Luzon.

"I think as treaty allies, if there is an attack, we should help one another, which is what the treaty alliance is all about," Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told journalists at a main army base in Manila on Friday.

Manila signed a Mutual Defence Treaty with Washington in 1951, one of the key links in the chain of security alliances the United States has with Asia-Pacific states, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Australia.

On Friday the two countries began a fortnight of scheduled joint military exercises known as Balikatan ('shoulder to shoulder') which come amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea, where the Philippines is embroiled in a long territorial dispute with China.

"Balikatan with its complex and comprehensive set of exercises is an important contribution not only in preparing both our armed forces to work together but also in building my country's own capacity to defend itself," del Rosario said.

About 8,000 American and Filipino soldiers are taking part in this year's exercises, staging mock battles and simulating disaster responses. Nearly a dozen Asian and Pacific states are also taking part in a drill that examines how to handle vessel collisions in a busy shipping lane such as the South China Sea.

(Reporting By Manuel Mogato; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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Comments (3)
My3cents wrote:
The Philippines would REALLY like US support in the dealings with China, so they are obviously hoping for some quid pro quo.

Apr 05, 2013 3:26pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Free_Pacific wrote:
“For our region excessive and exaggerated maritime and territorial claims have not only created uncertainty but have undermined the rule of law,” Del Rosario said in a speech at the nation’s military headquarters in Manila.

“Regional peace and stability have been placed at serious risk.”

Del Rosario later said he was referring specifically to China.

Hitler once promised he would stop making claims if he was given what he asked for. China is ‘stating’ it is taking an area 2000km long and 800km wide that is mostly the EEZ of their neighbours and includes islands inhabited by those neighbours. It has stated it is a ‘core’ interest, like the occupation of Tibet and is ignoring binding arbitration proceedings against it at UNCLOS. It knows it has no legal case and wants everyone to know, it has the capability to kill for it. It will also require either ethnic cleansing to enforce this, or absorb other countries passport holders as an alternative.

Welcome to the ‘Peaceful Rise of China’.

Apr 05, 2013 9:47pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
BrianCain wrote:
Alright

Apr 06, 2013 4:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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