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International relations

U.S., Philippines pivot to closer defense ties with eye on Taiwan

Defense chiefs Austin and Faustino discuss maritime security, intel sharing

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine counterpart Jose Faustino speak to reporters about plans to enhance defense cooperation. (Photo by Ryo Nakamura)

HONOLULU -- U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Philippine counterpart Jose Faustino agreed Thursday to step up their defense cooperation, as Washington seeks to better position itself for a potential Taiwan conflict.

At a joint news conference, Austin stressed that "by deepening our cooperation and modernizing our alliance, we can help secure the Philippines' future, tackle regional challenges and promote peace and security in the Indo-Pacific." He called for cooperation in a wide range of areas, "including strengthening our Mutual Defense Treaty commitments, [and] in enhancing maritime cooperation, in building on our mutual defense posture, and improving interoperability and information sharing."

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