PHL assures interests are protected in talks on US military presence-A A +A
Friday, September 20, 2013
THE Philippines makes sure that its interests are protected in the negotiations for the agreement that will allow the increased presence of American troops in the country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Friday.
Raul Hernandez, Foreign Affairs spokesperson, said in a text message that negotiations regarding the finalization of the framework agreement for the increased rotational presence of US troops in the country are continuing.
"Our team is making sure that our requirements are met," he answered when asked if the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama will affect the fourth round of talks between the long-time allies on October 1 and 2 in Manila.
Obama will be in the country for a two-day visit on October 11 and 12.
Carlos Sorreta, Foreign Affairs assistant secretary for American affairs, earlier said they will not rush the signing of the framework agreement in time for the US President's visit to Manila, where he is set to discuss the two countries relations with President Beningo Aquino III.
The two sides have just finished their third round of talk in Washington about two weeks ago. The parties are said to be "halfway through" the negotiations, but Sorreta maintained there is no deadline in finishing the negotiations.
Once approved and signed, the agreement will pave way for more US troops to visit the country and intensify the joint military exercises between Washington and Manila. The US will also regain access to former naval bases in Subic, Pampanga, as well as other military facilities.
The agreement will also allow the United States to build military structures in the country, although these would have to be turned over after the agreement passed its due. Normally, an agreement like this lasts 20 years but the Philippines is said to be looking at a shorter time frame.
The US' need to increase its military presence in the region was boosted by the Obama administrations repivot to Asia policy after more than a decade of being occupied with its campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq.
American troops have already increased their numbers in key Asia Pacific countries such as Australia and Singapore.
This increased presence also came at an opportune time for the Philippines, who is in the middle of a deepening territorial dispute with China over the resource-rich waters and islands of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
China, an emerging superpower, has frowned upon what it sees as Washington's intervention in a regional dispute and told the US and the Philippines that such an agreement should only be for ensuring the stability of the commercially vital sea lane.
Beijing sees Washington's rebalance to Asia policy as a way to deter their rising political, economic and military power. (CVB/Sunnex)