WASHINGTON: Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III met with Philippines Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana at the Pentagon on Friday to commemorate the 70th anniversary year of the U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty and discuss ways to deepen this vital alliance.
In recognition of this important anniversary, the Secretaries affirmed the enduring nature of the U.S.-Philippines alliance, as well as their shared commitment to building an even stronger foundation for future alliance cooperation. Secretary Austin reiterated that the U.S. commitment to Philippine security is ironclad, and that U.S. treaty commitments extend to Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the South China Sea. He expressed his appreciation for the Philippine decision to restore the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement, which signals a commitment by both sides to enhance the scale and scope of alliance cooperation. The Secretaries also discussed the importance of increased military and security cooperation to support Philippine defense modernization efforts and build alliance interoperability.
The Secretaries agreed to undertake a number of new initiatives that will ensure the bilateral alliance is postured to address new and emerging challenges. These include:
- developing a joint vision statement on shared priorities for the next phase of our alliance cooperation;
- concluding a bilateral maritime framework that advances military activities and cooperation in the maritime space;
- resuming infrastructure improvement projects at Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement agreed locations in the Philippines; and
- Re-convening the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue later this year.
The Secretaries closed the meeting by reiterating their commitment to supporting the security, stability, and prosperity of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to building an even more capable alliance that is based on a shared foundation of common interests and values.