US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Washington’s pledge to defend the Philippines remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, AFP reported, citing officials.
In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” Wednesday the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been at loggerheads with the Philippines and other countries in the region.
Citing Washington’s mutual defense treaty with Manila, Carter “stressed that the US commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad”, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The meeting came amid rising tensions over Beijing’s massive effort to build artificial islands in the South China Sea.
Carter and Gazmin “agreed that all parties involved in the South China Sea should seek a peaceful resolution of disputes, immediately halt land reclamation and stop further militarization of disputed features”, the statement said.
Manila has said it will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Beijing’s warnings.
And this month, the Philippines took part in a groundbreaking naval exercise with Japan.
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