US and Philippines Cooperation

WASHINGTON – The US and the Philippines said Friday they are expanding intelligence sharing and cooperation on maritime security, as President Barack Obama reiterated Washington’s desire to be viewed as a Pacific power.

Obama met at the White House with President Aquino against the backdrop of a two-month standoff between Philippine and Chinese vessels at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

China’s assertive behavior in those waters has served to bolster Manila’s 60-year alliance with Washington, which thrived during the Cold War but ebbed after nationalist political forces prompted the closure of American military bases in 1992.

Obama thanked Aquino for what he called “excellent cooperation” on economic, defense and other issues. Aquino earlier declared the allies are at a “new juncture in our relations.”

The security and military cooperation with the Philippines “is a reminder to everybody that the United States considers itself, and is, a Pacific power,” Obama said.

Aquino, the son of democracy heroes, has emerged as a willing partner of the US as it looks to build a stronger presence in Southeast Asia, a region neglected during a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Article courtesy of The Philippine Star.

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