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West Philippine Sea tops US-PH agenda in Asean defense meet in Jakarta

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin 3rd is looking forward to meeting with his Philippine counterpart Gilbert Teodoro Jr., in the upcoming Asean Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) conference in Jakarta to tackle in wider perspective the US-PH maritime engagements in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

The Defense department, in a statement revealed that Austin called up Secretary Teodoro on Friday, highlighting US' unrelenting commitment in the WPS following China's «dangerous and reckless maneuver» to block the resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal.

«Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin 3rd and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr spoke today. Secretary Austin reinforced US support for the Philippines following the PRC Coast Guard and maritime militia's dangerous obstruction of a Philippine resupply mission to Second Thomas Shoal on October 22,» the statement said.

China attempted to block civilian boats Unaiza May 1 and Unaiza May 2, along with Philippine Coast Guard ships, on a resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal resulting in a collision.

Both officials reaffirmed the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) that extends to «protecting both countries' public vessels, aircraft, and armed forces, including the Coast Guard, in the entire Pacific, including the South China Sea.»

«The Secretaries look forward to meeting in person in Jakarta on the margins of the upcoming Asean Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM)-Plus,» the statement said.