U.S. grants Philippines $100 million in foreign military financing

U.S. Navy F-18 fighter jets are parked on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during a goodwill visit in Manila, Philippines, October 14, 2022. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

ABOARD USS RONALD REAGAN, Oct 14 (Reuters) - The United States has made available $100 million in foreign military financing to the Philippines, its ambassador in Manila said on Friday, part of efforts to boost the Southeast Asian country's defence capabilities and military modernisation.

The new military financing underscores improved defence ties between the treaty allies under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whose predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, shifted his country's foreign policy away from the United States to pursue warmer ties with China.

"The United States has now made available $100 million in foreign military financing in part for the Philippine military to use as it wishes," Ambassador MaryKay Carlson told a media briefing aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, which was on a scheduled port call in Manila.

Carlson added the Philippines could use the allocation to "offset" its decision to scrap a 12.7 billion ($227.35 million)deal with Russia. Manila is looking to buy heavy-lift Chinook helicopters from the United States.

The Philippines is by far the largest recipient of U.S. military assistance in the Indo-Pacific region, having received$1.14 billion worth of planes, armoured vehicles, small arms, and other military equipment and training from 2015 to 2022. The amount includes $475.3 million worth of foreign military financing to Philippines, among the biggest in Southeast Asia.

President Marcos, who met his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden last month, said in a speech read by a foreign ministry official at Friday's briefing that he welcomed the visit of USS Ronald Reagan, and reiterated he was committed to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea.

The port call, the first in three years, by the nuclear-powered warship leading a carrier strike group, followed its participation in joint maritime exercises between the United States and South Korea.

($1 = 59.0750 Philippine pesos)

Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor

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