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Obama in Philippines After Signing of New Military Accord

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.

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.''

Mr. Obama flew to Manila from Malaysia. At a joint news conference Sunday in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak expressed his gratitude for American help in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Mr. Obama pledged to continue providing all the assistance possible in the search for the plane, which has been missing for seven weeks.

The two leaders said they had agreed to upgrade upper-level ties to a "comprehensive partnership," and to cooperate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and the nuclear Proliferation Security Initiative, both of which Malaysia has opposed in the past.

When questioned about Malaysia's human rights record, Mr. Obama said the country had made progress on human rights, but still has some work to do. He added that the U.S. does as well.

Mr. Obama's two-day trip to Manila is the final stop in his Asia tour, which also included Japan and South Korea.

This is Mr. Obama's fifth visit to Asia since taking office in 2009. He has promised to make the Pacific region a greater economic, diplomatic and military priority for the United States.

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