Monday, August 12, 2013

Talks begin on bigger US access -

By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

US-PH SECURITY TALKS Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin (right) and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario support the need for a framework agreement for increased rotational presence of US forces in the country. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, Philippines—"Our region needs to know that we are steadfastly for peace but that we stand ready to tap every resource, to call on every alliance [and] to do what is necessary to defend what is ours," Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Monday.

Del Rosario made the statement on the eve of the formal negotiations between the United States and the Philippines to increase rotational presence of American forces in the country, widely viewed as a deterrent to China's territorial aggression in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

Del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin jointly announced at Camp Aguinaldo the start of the formal talks at a news conference.

"At the front line of ensuring the security of our people and the territorial integrity of our nation is the profound partnership between diplomacy and defense. We have to strengthen both if we are to secure our people and our nation," Del Rosario said.

He said "diplomacy and defense will once again intersect to secure our nation—this week we start the negotiations with the United States to institutionalize this policy through a framework agreement."
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