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Blinken praises the “strong” alliance between the US and the Philippines in talks with Marcos

#Blinken #praises #strong #alliance #Philippines #talks #Marcos

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Saturday to strengthen the countries’ “strong” alliance amid China’s military drills in nearby Taiwan.

Blinken is the highest-ranking US official to visit the Southeast Asian nation — a covenant ally of the United States — since Marcos took office on June 30.

“The Alliance is strong and I believe it can grow even stronger,” Blinken told Marcos when they met at the Presidential Palace in the capital, Manila.

Marcos welcomed the “special relationship” between the two countries.

The United States has a security pact with the Philippines and has supported its former colony in increasingly heated disputes in the South China Sea with Beijing.

Blinken’s meeting with Marcos came after China launched a series of huge military exercises around Taiwan, which the United States and other Western allies condemned.

During exercises on Thursday and Friday, China fired ballistic missiles and stationed warplanes and warships around Taiwan, some 400 kilometers north of the Philippines. The war games are set to resume on Saturday.

The People’s Liberation Army has also declared several no-go danger zones around Taiwan, spanning major shipping lanes and in some places within 20 kilometers (12 miles) of the island’s coast.

The moves came in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan that sparked anger in China.

Marcos said Pelosi’s visit only shows the existing “intensity” of the conflict, rather than increasing tensions.

Blinken arrived in Manila late Friday after attending an Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia.

There he condemned China’s military exercises as “a significant escalation”.

Like other ASEAN members, the Philippines does not officially recognize Taiwan and has shown no appetite to support Taipei against China.

The Philippines’ foreign ministry said Thursday it was “concerned about rising tensions” in its north and urged “restraint from all parties.”

“Diplomacy and dialogue must prevail,” it said in a statement.

The United States has a complex relationship with the Philippines — and the Marcos family.

After two decades of ruling the former US colony with the support of Washington, which viewed him as a Cold War ally, Ferdinand Marcos Sr. exiled to Hawaii in 1986 in the face of mass protests and prodding from the United States.

As regional tensions mount, Washington is keen to maintain its security alliance with Manila, which includes a mutual defense treaty and permission for the US military to store defense equipment and supplies at several Philippine bases.

It also allows US troops access to certain military bases in the country.

Marcos has indicated he will strike a balance between China and the United States, which are vying for the closest ties with his government.

US relations with Manila recovered towards the end of Marcos’s tenure, Rodrigo Duterte, who waged a brutal war on drugs that human rights groups say has left tens of thousands dead.

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#Blinken #praises #strong #alliance #Philippines #talks #Marcos

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