June 5, 2015 / 3:05 AM / 4 years ago

Aquino: will begin talks to allow Japan to use Philippines' military bases

Philippine President Benigno Aquino (L) shakes hands with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after their joint press conference at the Akasaka State Guesthouse in Tokyo June 4, 2015. REUTERS/Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool

TOKYO (Reuters) - Philippine President Benigno Aquino said on Friday his nation was ready to start talks that would allow Japanese military aircraft and naval vessels to use the Philippines to refuel, allowing them to extend their range of operation into the South China Sea.

The agreement would be a Visiting Forces Agreement, which would clear the way for the Japanese military to use Philippines’ bases on a rotational basis, Aquino said at a press briefing in Tokyo at the end of a four-day state visit to Japan.

Aquino’s trip comes as the two countries deepen their security ties. Manila is looking for allies in a territorial spat with China in the South China Sea, while Tokyo is concerned about Chinese land reclamation projects in the sea that it fears will expand Beijing’s influence in a region.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim

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