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Obama: Security Pact with Philippines Not Aimed at China

U.S. President Barack Obama says a new security agreement signed with the Philippines is not meant to "counter" or "control" China.

Mr. Obama is in the Philippines on an Asia trip that included Japan, South Korea and Malaysia.

During a news conference with Philippine President Benigno Aquino, President Obama said the United States has a constructive relationship with China and "our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected, and that includes in the area of international disputes."

China and the Philippines have competing maritime and territorial claims in the South China Sea.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency called the move "particularly disturbing as it may embolden Manila in dealing with Beijing." Xinhua said by striking a defense deal with the United States, the Aquino administration intends to "confront China with U.S. backing."

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.

The 10-year deal will allow a larger U.S. security presence in the islands and the rotation of U.S. troops and equipment, such as ships and fighter jets, into Philippine military bases.

President Obama's visit to Philippines was met with protesters who demonstrated outside the palace where Monday's talks took place. The activists are against any U.S. military presence in the Philippines. The United States shut down its last remaining bases in the Philippines in the 1990's.

In an effort to address those concerns, Mr. Obama said the United States 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.

U.S. Ambassador Goldberg told an audience at the signing ceremony 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 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.''

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