US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has secured an agreement from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to restore a key pact allowing military exercises between the two countries to continue.
US naval presence in the Indo-Pacific is seen by many Southeast Asian states as a counterbalance to a rising China. Beijing has claimed sovereignty over large parts of the nearby South China Sea, even constructing artificial islands for its navy and air force. Secretary Austin said his visit was meant to underscore the importance of the relationship with the Philippines, which is the US’s oldest ally in Asia.
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