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Philippine defense chief says U.S. base deal not aimed at war

Senators, local officials fear Manila involvement in possible Taiwan conflict

U.S. Marines prepare for annual combat drills with their Philippine counterparts in Capas, Tarlac province, northern Philippines in October 2022.    © AP

MANILA -- The Philippines' decision to allow the U.S. to access more military bases is intended to bolster deterrence, not engage in war, the Southeast Asian nation's defense chief said, amid fears the expanded defense agreement could entangle Manila in a conflict in the Taiwan Strait.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. last month granted American troops access to four more military camps, in addition to five other locations previously agreed under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. The move is meant to protect Manila's interests in the disputed South China Sea, Marcos told Nikkei Asia on Feb. 12.

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