UNITED States (US) Defense chief Lloyd Austin III made a courtesy call on President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday, February 2, 2023.

In a meeting in Malacañang, Marcos acknowledged the long-standing partnership between the Philippines and US.

"I have always said that it seems to me that the future of the Philippines and for that matter the Asia Pacific, will always have to involve the United States simply because our partnership was so strong," the President said.

He expressed gratitude to Austin for visiting the Philippines, an opportunity for the two countries to exchange ideas especially on the present security situation in the region.

“Thank you for finding your time to come and be with us and perhaps exchange some ideas and thoughts and comments and information on the current situation geopolitically, and of course more specifically here in the Asia-Pacific region,” said Marcos.

Austin, for his part, vowed that the US will continue to work with the Philippines especially in the modernization of capability and increasing interoperability.

The US defense chief arrived in the country on Tuesday evening, January 31.

He visited the Philippine troops in Zamboanga City on Wednesday.

Austin is also set to meet with Philippine Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) headquarters in Quezon City on Thursday afternoon, February 2.

Austin first visited the country in July 2021 where he met then President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials. (SunStar Philippines)