U.S. President Barack Obama is in the Philippines on the last stop of a four-nation tour of Asia.
A few hours before Mr. Obama arrived Monday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazman signed a new 10-year security pact that will allow for a larger U.S. security presence in the islands. The agreement sets up a framework for the rotation of U.S. troops and equipment, such as ships and fighter jets, into Philippine military bases.
At a joint news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino, Mr. Obama said he wanted to make it clear that the U.S. does not intend to reclaim old bases or build new ones under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. He said the purpose of the deal is to help with training and build cooperation, not only for security reasons, but to prepare for natural disasters.
President Aquino said he does not think China should be concerned by an increased American presence in the area. He also said the Philippines poses no threat to other countries in the region.
U.S. Ambassador Goldberg told an audience at the signing ceremony that the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement will "promote peace and security in the region."
``Through joint exercises, training and subject matter expert exchanges, to increase their capabilities and interoperability, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, or EDCA, serves as recognition by both sides, that there is even more we can do together to support the alliance and to promote peace and security in the region.''
He emphasized that no U.S. bases would be built in the Philippines.
``A commitment to democratic governance and international law, the mutuality of benefits for both nations as we develop our individual and collective defense capacities, respect for Philippine sovereignty over all locations covered under the agreement, and the understanding that the United States does not intend to establish a permanent military presence in the Philippines.''