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Leaders Discuss Partnership Between U.S., Philippines

U.S. and Philippine leaders met today to discuss the nations' military, economic and humanitarian partnership at a meeting in Washington.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, Philippine Officer in Charge of the Department of National Defense Carlito Galvez Jr. and Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo held a news conference today to discuss that meeting at the State Department in Washington.


The Mutual Defense Treaty between the U.S. and the Philippines, signed in 1951, "remains the bedrock of our cooperation," Austin said. 

The treaty applies to armed attacks on either nation's armed forces or public vessels anywhere in the South China Sea, he said. 

At today's meeting, discussions included modernizing the Philippine armed forces and operationalizing the four new sites in Palawan and northern Luzon under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was signed on Feb. 1, he said. 

Jet launches from carrier.
Sea Launch
A sailor launches an F/A-18F Super Hornet from the Strike Fighter Squadron from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, April 8, 2023, in the Philippine Sea.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Calabrese
VIRIN: 230408-N-MH015-1152

Those four new sites are Naval Base Camilo Osias, Camp Melchor Dela Cruz, Balabac Island and Lal-lo Airport. The five existing sites are Cesar Basa Air Base, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation, Lumbia Air Base, Antonio Bautista Air Base and Mactan Benito Ebuen Air Base.

These nine sites will support combined training exercises and military interoperability, Austin said, adding that by the end of fiscal year 2023, a forecasted $100 million in infrastructure will be invested at the sites. 

"Those investments will spur job creation and economic growth in local Philippine communities," he said. 

Four men stand on a stage behind podiums.
News Conference
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken conduct a news conference with Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo and Philippine Officer in Charge of the Department of National Defense Carlito Galvez after a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in Washington, April 11, 2023.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza
VIRIN: 230411-D-PM193-1129A

Today's discussion also focused on "near-term plans to complete a security-sector assistance roadmap to support the delivery of priority defense platforms over the next five to 10 years, including radar, unmanned aerial systems, military transport aircraft and coastal- and air-defense systems," Austin said. 

Discussion included planning combined maritime activities with the U.S., Philippines and other ally and partner nations in the South China Sea later this year to enhance collective deterrence, he said.

Vehicle is offloaded from ship.
Balikatan 23
U.S. Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force offload vehicles from the MV Cape Henry at port of Subic Bay, Philippines, April 3, 2023, in preparation for exercise Balikatan 23.
Photo By: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Samuel Fletcher
VIRIN: 230403-M-LS844-1113
Troops refuel aircraft.
Balikatan 23
U.S. Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 174, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing and Airmen with 753rd Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron refuel a CV-22 Osprey during exercise Balikatan 23 at the Subic Bay International Airport, Philippines, April 7, 2023.
Photo By: U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kyle Chan
VIRIN: 230407-M-MO098-1332
Of note, Austin mentioned that more than 17,000 troops are participating in Exercise Balikatan. It is the largest and most complex iteration of that annual exercise which began 38 years ago. 

Blinken touted the economic partnership, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity with the Philippines and other partners across east and south Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. 

Manalo and Galvez lauded the humanitarian assistance the U.S. has provided, as well as economic and military cooperation.

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