US, Philippines Sign Pact to Boost Military Presence

New 10-year deal signed as Obama visits
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 28, 2014 12:03 AM CDT
US to Boost Military Presence in Philippines
President Obama and Philippine President Benigno Aquino III participate in a bilateral meeting at Malacanang Palace in Manila today.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The US military will get greater access to bases across the Philippines under a 10-year agreement signed today in conjunction with President Obama's visit, in a deal seen as an effort by Washington to counter Chinese aggression in the region. The US ambassador and the country's defense secretary signed the agreement at the main military camp in the capital ahead of Obama's stop and portrayed it is as a central part of his week-long Asia swing. Reuters notes that China indeed wasted no time in blasting the move, with state-run Xinhua saying, "Given that the Philippines is at a bitter territorial row with China, the move is particularly disturbing as it may embolden Manila in dealing with Beijing."

The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will give American forces temporary access to selected military camps and allow them to position fighter jets and ships in advance. The size and duration of the US presence still has to be worked out with the Philippine government, says the senior director for Asian affairs at the White House's National Security Council. He declined to say which places are being considered under the agreement, but said the long-shuttered US facility at Subic Bay could be one of the locations. (More Philippines stories.)

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