Pentagon chief affirms US commitment to alliance, defense treaty with Philippines

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United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, in an introductory phone call February 9 with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, reaffirmed United States’ commitment to US-Philippines alliance.

“Secretary Austin affirmed the U.S. commitment to the U.S.-Philippines alliance and our bilateral Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), highlighting the value the VFA brings to both countries,” according to readout released by Pentagon.

It added that the two officials discussed the importance of enhancing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s capabilities.

They also discussed the importance of increasing interoperability between US and Philippine militaries through a variety of bilateral security cooperation activities.

“The Secretaries also discussed regional security challenges, to include the South China Sea, counterterrorism, and maritime security, and affirmed the importance of upholding international rules and norms, to include the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling,” the Pentagon added.