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Philippines, US rush defence talks for Obama visit
Publication Date : 10-04-2014
The Philippines and the United States are set to begin Thursday the eighth round of talks for an Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement, nearly three weeks ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.
The two-day talks will involve threshing out issues of access of both parties to shared areas in Philippine military bases, a ranking government official privy to the talks told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
“There are still some matters that need to be fully discussed and threshed out in terms of the access, (particularly) the modalities of the access,” said the source, requesting anonymity for lack of authority to speak about the negotiations.
The source described the eight-month long negotiations as “delicate and at times difficult.”
Talks for the new agreement, initially called Framework for Increased Rotational Presence of US troops, began in August last year.
Both governments are looking out for their own interests, the source said.
“The reason for conducting these talks is there is mutuality of benefits (for the Philippines and the US),” the source said.
The Philippine government has said the completion of the talks was not dependent on the visit of Obama, scheduled later this month.
The enhanced defence cooperation agreement is widely viewed as a deterrent to China’s continued aggressive claim to territories in the South China Sea.
The Philippines maintains that China’s so-called nine-dash line encroaches on its 370-kilometre exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea.