Written by Matt Spetalnick and David Brunstrom
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Thursday that his agreement this year to allow the United States access to more military bases in his country was not intended as an “offensive action” against any country.
Speaking to an American think tank in Washington, Marcos said he made this point to Chinese officials during recent talks. He also said that the United States did not ask the Philippines to provide troops in the event of a war between China and the United States over Taiwan.
Marcos told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) allowing access to bases in the Philippines was designed to deal with the effects of climate change.
“The foreign minister of China just visited me…and I told him and assured him that no, these are not…they are meant to be military bases to attack and act against anyone, any country, not China, nor are they,” Marcos said.
He said using EDCA bases for “offensive action” would be outside the bounds of what Manila had discussed with the US, and added that Washington had never raised the possibility of using them as “staging areas” for offensive action against any country. nation.
Manila’s ties with Washington deepened under Marcos and he gave the US military access to four more bases in February, something China said “stoke up” regional tension.
Experts say the United States views the Philippines as a potential site for missiles, missiles and artillery systems to counter China’s amphibious invasion of Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after a meeting of the US and Philippine secretaries of defense and state last month that it was “too early” to discuss what assets the US would like to deploy to Philippine bases.
Marcos came to Washington for a summit with President Joe Biden seeking to demonstrate Washington’s commitment to protecting his country under a 1951 security pact, amid rising tensions in the South China Sea, where Manila is vying for claims from Beijing, as well as tensions between the two countries. Over Taiwan and North Korea.
Biden said after their meeting on Monday that the US commitment to defending its ally is “tough,” including in the South China Sea. Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951.
Marcos said relations between Washington and Manila have returned to the “normal path of partnership” and need to be developed to make them more responsive to current and emerging challenges.
Under his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte, relations with the United States were strained as Duterte firmly distanced the Philippines from its former colonial ruler and forged closer ties with Beijing.
(Reporting by David Brunstrom, Matt Spetalnick and Eric Beach; Editing by Leslie Adler and Sandra Mahler)
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