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International relations

Philippines, Japan pledge to deepen security and economic ties

Two nations edge toward a troop deployment deal in face of Chinese threat

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida before a bilateral meeting in Tokyo on Feb. 9. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai) 

TOKYO -- Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday agreed to strengthen their countries' defense ties, amid China's assertive actions in the South China Sea and growing fears over a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

The agreement to step up defense cooperation comes as the two U.S. allies are exploring a possible visiting forces agreement, which would make it easier for Japan to send troops to the Philippines for disaster response and military drills, Philippine officials have said. Japan recently struck similar accords with Australia and the U.K.

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