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USA, Japan and Australia |  The Philippines prepares for joint naval exercises

USA, Japan and Australia | The Philippines prepares for joint naval exercises

(MANILA) The Philippines will hold joint naval exercises with the US, Japan and Australia, two diplomatic sources told AFP on Thursday, strengthening their military cooperation in the face of China's growing influence in the region.


The exercise is scheduled for Sunday in the South China Sea, a sea area over which Beijing claims almost complete sovereignty, days ahead of a summit in Washington that will bring together US President Joe Biden and the leaders of the Philippines and Japan.

The exercises have not yet been officially announced, diplomatic sources said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, the Australian warship HMAS Waramunga came close to disputed waters off the Philippine province of Palawan.

The Philippine military said the visit “aims to strengthen military ties with partner countries”.

Last year, regional tensions intensified, with China asserting more assertive claims to maritime areas claimed by the Philippines and Japan and the autonomous island of Taiwan.

In response, the United States sought to strengthen its alliances, particularly with its traditional allies Japan and the Philippines.

Biden's summit with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida followed high-level meetings with US partners in the Asia-Pacific region on April 11 at the White House.

Joint patrol

A diplomatic source told AFP that a joint patrol between the US, Japanese and Philippine coast guards was to be announced at the summit.

The naval exercises and summit come after several clashes between Chinese and Philippine ships near atolls off the Philippines in recent months.

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Several senior US officials have repeatedly affirmed America's “iron fist” commitment to defend the Philippines in the South China Sea against armed attack.

At the same time, the Philippines and Japan began talks on a defense treaty that would allow each other to station troops in their respective territories.

Manila has already reached similar agreements with Australia and the United States.

In an interview with the Nikkei business daily on Thursday, he said Japan needs to show more presence and “take more responsibility” to offer options to the Philippines and other countries. 'South East Asia.

Tokyo, Washington and Manila will work together to implement trilateral cooperation projects, including in the fields of semiconductors, digital technology and next-generation nuclear power, he said.