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US senators: China conflict remote, Philippines to get 2 more ships

Four United States senators, including Arizona Sen. John McCain and Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman are in Manila  from January 16 to 18. They said on the second day of their visit that while conflict with China is "not inevitable" the US alliance with the Philippines must be affirmed and one of the ways is through the provision of two more ships.
 
The two other US legislators with McCain and Lieberman are  Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.
 
“We’ve had discussions with leaders here on a number of issues – trade, investments, a number of issues and of course the issue of China is the subject of our discussions,” Senator McCain said.
 
The Arizona senator elaborated that “(n)either the government of the Philippines nor the government of the US nor the US senators believe that we will or we need to have a confrontation with China, but we also feel that it’s important that we re-affirm and strengthen our ties.”
 
“We think it’s important for us and other ASEAN nations as well as the Philippines to emphasize that we will do whatever we need to do in order to protect the principle of freedom of navigation particularly in the West Philippine Sea,” the former contender for President of the United States said.

'More ships on the way' 

“Defense cooperation is very important,” said Senator Lieberman.
 
“Three of us are members of the Armed Services Committee and one is a member of the intelligence committee and we are here to express a steadfastness of support with out friends and allies in the Philippines to say that as we see China rising, conflict is not inevitable and we hope that it never occurs,” Lieberman also said.
 
He explained that the collaboration they seek with the Philippines “are not just in terms of security but we are also seeking new ways of collaboration in terms of economic partnership and educational partnerships as well which will benefit both peoples.”
 
Lieberman also revealed that “there are two more (coast guard cutters) on their way” to the Philippines in addition to the first one that the Philippine Navy has deployed off the coast of Palawan.
 
Senator McCain made it clear that the US expansion of its military presence in Asia “does not mean bases in the Philippines.”
 
“The Filipino people I believe do not want military bases but I do believe that can mean joint military operations, can be providing more like the coast guard cutter like what we did to the Philippines. I don’t believe that those days will ever return,” McCain said.. — ELR, GMA News
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January 17, 2012 10:35pm
GMA News Online
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