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Tuesday, 19 March 2024 10:35

Blinken to Meet Philippine Leader on Bolstering Alliance

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media as he tours Amkor Technology in Manila on March 19, 2024. (Photo by EVELYN HOCKSTEIN / POOL / AFP)

 

VOInews, Jakarta: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to hold talks with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos on Tuesday, as the countries seek to reinforce security and economic ties in the face of growing Chinese aggression.

 

Blinken's visit to Manila -- his second since Marcos took office in June 2022 -- is part of a brief Asia tour that also included South Korea.

 

Washington is keen to improve relations with its regional allies, such as Manila and Seoul, in a bid to deter China and North Korea as tensions rise in the South China Sea over Taiwan and on the Korean peninsula.

 

Blinken's trip comes ahead of a trilateral meeting in Washington next month between US President Joe Biden, Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

 

Announcing the three-way summit with the Asia Pacific allies, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the leaders would push a "shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific".

 

During his meeting with Marcos and his Philippine counterpart Enrique Manalo on Tuesday, Blinken is expected to reaffirm the United States' security commitments to the Philippines.

 

"What we're trying to demonstrate... is that we are committed to the Indo-Pacific, to this region, despite everything else that's going on in the world right now," a senior State Department official told reporters on Monday.

 

"I would expect when we're in Manila, the main concern will obviously be China's continued destabilising actions in the South China Sea that are in contravention of international law."

 

Top US officials have repeatedly said that "an armed attack" against Philippine public vessels, aircraft, armed forces and coastguard would invoke the 1951 US-Philippines mutual defence treaty in which Washington is obliged to defend its ally.

 

Blinken's visit follows a spate of incidents involving Philippine and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, including collisions, in recent months.

 

Marcos has expressed "great alarm" over the confrontations that have sparked diplomatic sparring between Manila and Beijing.

 

Source: AFP

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