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US to increase joint military exercises with Philippines


THE United States plans to increase joint military exercises with the Philippines, American senators who met with President Benigno Aquino III in Malacanang said on Tuesday.
The announcement was made after Arizona Senator John McCain and three other American senators, Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire visited the country.
The move forms part of the US' intention to increase its naval and air assets in the Asia Pacific Region.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin welcomed the move, saying that it will improve the country's capabilities.
The joint military exercises will "enhance" Philippines' experience, capabilities, and abilities to protect its territorial integrity, Lacierda said.
But this does not mean that the US is establishing bases in the country, Lacierda said.
During the meeting, which was attended by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, the government also announced plans of acquiting another Hamilton class cutter to beef up the country’s maritime defense.
Last year, the Aquino administration received a Hamilton class cutter from the US named BRP Gregorio del Pilar and now being deployed to the West Philippine Sea.
Aquino also briefed the American senators about the impeachment trial on Chief Justice Renato Corona, Lacierda said.
"They will not like to be involved in the internal events in the Philippines but they were briefed by the President because that’s the hot thing going on right now," he said.
Lacierda said President Aquino was also lauded by McCain for his high approval ratings while Lieberman was impressed with the way Aquino was running the country and with his efforts on good governance. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
SunStar.Com.Ph

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