Saturday, January 28, 2012

America not seeking new bases in Southeast Asia — US admiral

WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday welcomed the Philippines' offer to allow more US troops on its territory, saying it would boost US power in Asia, and assured it was not seeking to re-establish bases in the former colony.
The Philippines said earlier Friday that it planned to hold more joint exercises and to let more US troops rotate through the Southeast Asian country, which is embroiled in increasingly tense territorial disputes with China.
"We would welcome discussions with the Philippines along those lines, but there's no aspiration for bases in Southeast Asia," said Admiral Robert Willard, head of the US Pacific Command.
Willard said that the United States -- which stations more than 85,000 troops in Japan and South Korea -- wanted more flexible ways to bring troops into Southeast Asia without the costs of permanent bases.
He also pointed to Australia's offer to station US Marines -- announced by President Barack Obama on a visit in November -- and plans to forward-deploy littoral combat ships in Singapore.
"There is no desire nor view right now that the US is seeking basing options anywhere in the Asia-Pacific theater," Willard told a news conference in Washington.

Military bases in PHL

The US had maintained two military bases in the Philippines after World War II: Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base in Central Luzon.
However, the two bases were closed in the early 1990s after the Philippine Senate voted to reject a new treaty for the bases on Sept. 16, 1991.
Clark Air Base was abandoned in 1991 due to volcanic ash from Mount Pinatubo, which had erupted that year.
In 1999, the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement went into effect, to govern the conduct of visiting US forces especially during military exercises.
 Agence France Presse with a report from GMA News 

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