US, PH tackle S. China Sea, security cooperation in strategic talks

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2021 02:40 PM

Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and United States Military attend the opening of the 36th Balikatan Exercise (BK36-21) wearing masks and maintaining social distancing amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on April 12, 2021. Armed Forces of the Philippines handout via Reuters/File
Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and United States Military attend the opening of the 36th Balikatan Exercise (BK36-21) wearing masks and maintaining social distancing amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City on April 12, 2021. Armed Forces of the Philippines handout via Reuters/File

MANILA - The Philippines and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to peace and security in the Asia Pacific during their 9th Bilateral Strategic Dialogue this week, noting the importance of a rules-based order in the disputed South China Sea. 

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said this year's Bilateral Strategic Dialogue aims to discuss "regional and global issues, and... political, security, and economic cooperation," among others.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US Department of State said officials discussed with their Filipino counterparts the opportunity to "deepen" economic ties in the areas of science and technology, infrastructure, and fisheries.

"Throughout the meeting, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to peace, security, and economic prosperity in the Asia Pacific region," the statement read.

There were also consultations on ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and the maritime order in the resource-rich South China Sea, within which is the smaller West Philippine Sea. 

Beijing has asserted its sovereignty over the waters even while the international Permanent Court of Arbitration invalidated its sweeping claims in a 2016 ruling.

"Both countries consulted extensively on joint efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic, uphold the rules-based maritime order in the South China Sea, foster respect for human rights, and strengthen interoperability of the US and Philippine armed forces," the US state department added.

The event was held on Nov. 15 and 16 in Washington, D.C. The Philippines' representatives were Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro and Defense Undersecretary Cardozo Luna. 

The Philippines and the United States have been treaty allies for some 70 years under the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951. 

Under the treaty, the two sides are obligated to come to each other's aid in case of external aggression.

The United States is the oldest security ally of the Philippines, with a wide-ranging security partnership that includes assistance to support Philippine efforts towards enhancing its defense capabilities.

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