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US VP reaffirms commitment to defense of Philippines

SAN FRANCISCO – The US yesterday reaffirmed commitment to its treaty obligations to the Philippines, saying it stands “shoulder-to-shoulder” in defending its ally’s sovereign rights in the South China Sea, which are being challenged by China’s aggressive maneuvers in the disputed waters.

In their meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, President Marcos and US Vice President Kamala Harris reaffirmed the strength of the alliance between their countries and discussed ongoing efforts to deepen security ties and expand commercial and economic cooperation, according to a White House statement.

“The Vice President reiterated (that) the United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder in defending the Philippines’ sovereign rights and jurisdiction in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the United States’ defense commitment to the Philippines under Article IV of the 1951 US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty,” it said.

The White House said Harris underscored that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft in the Pacific, including in the South China Sea, would invoke US mutual defense commitments. The two leaders also reiterated their shared commitment to upholding international rules and norms, including in the South China Sea, it added.

Malacañang has not issued a statement on the meeting as of yesterday.

Marcos and Harris also talked about strengthening and broadening economic cooperation bilaterally and through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, according to the White House.

The two leaders welcomed the conclusion of a historic “123” civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which is seen to deepen their countries’ partnership to build a global clean energy economy, strengthen their shared commitment to improving energy security and advance the global non-proliferation regime.

Harris announced the launch of the “123” agreement talks while in Manila in November 2022. Manila and Washington are set to sign the landmark agreement today.

Harris also announced a new partnership with the Philippines to grow and diversify the global semiconductor ecosystem under the International Technology Security and Innovation