President Barack Obama welcomed a defence pact with the Philippines that will allow the United States to base ships and aircraft in the country but said the goal is not to counter China, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
Obama, who is in Manila on the last leg of a 10-day, four-nation tour of Asian allies, said the aim of the agreement is to make sure international rules and norms are respected including those relating to territorial disputes.
The Philippines and several countries in Southeast Asia have an increasingly tense relationship with China over disputed islands in the South China Sea.
Manila’s defense agreement with Washington puts more muscle in Obama’s so-called “pivot” to Asia as China becomes more assertive and bolsters the Philippines against what it sees as Chinese intimidation, the report said.
Chinese and Philippine ships had a month-long stand-off in 2012 that gave momentum for the push to upgrade defense ties with Washington, Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario was quoted as saying.
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