Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs George Little provided the following readout:
“Following a successful meeting in Washington last month alongside Secretary Clinton, Secretary Panetta met with Philippines Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin Saturday, June 2, at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
“Panetta and Gazmin agreed that the U.S.-Philippines alliance is critical to regional peace and security, and each is committed to meeting the obligations of the Mutual Defense Treaty signed in 1951. The meeting allowed the two leaders to reflect on the alliance and continue their discussion regarding possible ways to enhance the longstanding relationship and support the U.S. presence in the region in ways that are mutually beneficial, specifically through increased bilateral and multilateral engagements, exercises, and exchange programs.
“The cornerstone of the existing and any future enhancements of our security relationship will be to assist with capacity building of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, safeguard stability in the region, and increase interoperability so that we can effectively provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction together.
“Additionally, Panetta and Gazmin discussed areas of mutual concern and future growth, particularly the further development of our collective defense capabilities and communications infrastructure; enhancing maritime domain awareness capacity; continued cooperation on the protection of cyberspace; and expanding joint information sharing, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities.
“Regarding the South China Sea, both sides reiterated their respective national interests in the right to freedom of navigation and their support for a collaborative and multilateral diplomatic process to resolve any territorial disputes peacefully in accordance with international law.”