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World Philippines says US military deal 'in full force again'

09:59  30 july  2021
09:59  30 july  2021 Source:   afp.com

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The deal has been prolonged three times since then, most recently in June after months of negotiations between the two sides. Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday the VFA was " in full force again ", during a news conference with Austin, who was in Manila on the last stop of a The 1998 VFA provides the legal framework for the US to hold joint military exercises and operations in the Philippines and is a key component of their decades-long alliance. It is also seen as a bulwark against China's growing clout in the region. Austin, who was visiting Southeast Asia for the first time as US

The move follows the visit of US Defense Secretary Llyod Austin. Philippine soldiers next to their armored personnel carriers and tanks during a joint military exercise with the US in 2019. The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) provides protocols for the rotation of thousands of US soldiers for combat exercises and drills. What could have prompted the reversal? The pact has gained additional importance in recent years for the US and its allies, with China trying to assert itself in the region.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has walked back on a decision to end a key military deal with the United States, his defence secretary said Friday during a visit by Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.

a group of people standing in a room: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has walked back on a decision to end a key military deal with the United States © - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has walked back on a decision to end a key military deal with the United States

Duterte told the United States in February last year he planned to axe the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) after Washington cancelled the visa of a close ally who led his internationally condemned war on drugs.

The deal has been prolonged three times since then, most recently in June after months of negotiations between the two sides.

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Philippines says it has fully restored a major security agreement with the United States , with President Rodrigo Duterte retracting his intention to terminate the Philippines - U . S . Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) late Thursday. Filipino Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana told reporters at a news conference with U . S . Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday that Duterte, after his meeting with Austin, retracted the VFA termination letter sent to the U . S . last year. “This provides us some degree of certainty going forward, so we can plan further in

Many Philippine military leaders and politicians favor sticking with the joint forces treaty, and lawmakers have said that ending the country’s participation in the agreement would require the Senate’s assent. Mr. Locsin, the foreign secretary, said the Visiting Forces Agreement enabled Philippine But on Monday night, Mr. Duterte again lashed out at America and its military , saying Washington had always gotten the better end of the deal . He said that after large-scale war games, the American troops take their modern weapons with them when they depart. “They do not leave it with us .

Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday the VFA was "in full force again", during a news conference with Austin, who was in Manila on the last stop of a Southeast Asia tour. 

"Last night, after the meeting between Secretary Austin and the president... the president decided to recall or retract the termination letter for the VFA," Lorenzana said, adding: "We are back on track". 

The 1998 VFA provides the legal framework for the US to hold joint military exercises and operations in the Philippines and is a key component of their decades-long alliance.

It is also seen as a bulwark against China's growing clout in the region.

Austin, who was visiting Southeast Asia for the first time as US defence secretary, welcomed Duterte's decision, saying it "provides us some degree of certainty going forward".

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The Philippines and the U . S . are considering a new military pact similar to the Visiting Forces Agreement which President Rodrigo Duterte ordered terminated. The U . S . Defense Department is “extremely concerned” with Duterte’s decision, and diplomats from both countries are now “finding ways and means to see how we can come Both countries would like the U . S . special forces stationed in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao to stay in order to fight terrorism, Romualdez said . The VFA has governed military cooperation between the Philippines and the U . S . since 1998 and is key to

The Philippines ' cooperation with the US comes amid very tense relations with China, over territorial disputes in strategic waters. It remains unknown, though, how much military hardware the US will provide to the country.In return for its help, the US will be given greater access to Philippine ports and airports, and according to some reports may even reopen several major bases that were shut down decades The United States has made "a strategic rebalancing" of its security posture and is moving its forces into Asia, Philippine presidential communications secretary Ricky Carandang said on Friday.

"A strong, resilient US-Philippine alliance will remain vital to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific," Austin said.


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"A fully restored VFA will help us achieve that goal together."

- South China Sea -

The move comes with tensions growing in the hotly contested South China Sea, where Beijing's growing assertiveness has raised alarm.

China claims almost all of the resource-rich sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade passes annually, with competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Beijing has ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the waters to be without basis.

Manila was angered after hundreds of Chinese boats were spotted inside the Philippines' Exclusive Economic Zone in March, sparking a war of words between the two countries.

Speaking in Singapore on Tuesday, Austin said China's claim to the vast majority of the waters had "no basis in international law" and reiterated the United States would support countries defending their rights.

Duterte has sought to pivot away from the United States, the Philippines' former colonial master, towards China since taking power in 2016 and has appeared reluctant to confront Beijing.

But facing growing domestic pressure to take a harder line, Duterte has insisted Philippine sovereignty over the waters is not negotiable.

"Gone are the days when the Philippines decides and acts in the shadows of great powers," Duterte said Monday.

"We will assert what is rightfully ours and fight for what is rightfully due to the Filipino people."

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This is interesting!