Harris lands in Manila to boost bilateral security ties

Manila, Nov 20 (EFE).- United States vice president Kamala Harris arrived Sunday in the Philippines, where she will meet with the country’s president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., in a visit that is expected to strengthen Washington’s security alliance with the Asian archipelago.

Harris arrived in the Philippines after participating in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok.

US president Joe Biden has also been in the region this week, at the G20 leaders’ meeting in Bali which ended on Wednesday.

Harris will meet with Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, on Monday, a meeting that is expected to reinforce the historic security alliance between the two countries, after the administration of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, saw the Philippines develop closer ties with China.

Inaugurated on June 30, Marcos Jr. has sought to redirect the focus of Philippine foreign policy, after Duterte went as far as temporarily suspending an agreement allowing the US to maintain a military presence in the archipelago.

The agreement, which came into force in 1999, provides legal cover for US troops to enter the Philippines for joint maneuvers.

In addition, the Philippines and the US have other more far-reaching security treaties, such as the Mutual Defense Agreement, which dates back to 1951.

During Marcos Jr.’s tenure, there have been several high-level meetings with the US, including one with Biden during a September trip to Washington, where he emphasized that the Philippines considers the US as a “friend and partner”.

Harris is also planning a trip on Tuesday to the province of Palawan, neighbor of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, which are disputed between China and the Philippines, where she is expected to defend international law in a clear message to Beijing and its perceived expansionary aims in the region.

Harris arrived in the Philippines, a country that tries to maintain a balance between China and the US, a day after her meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping on the sidelines of APEC, in which she insisted on maintaining open communication between the two powers.

The US vice president’s trip to the Philippines comes in the context of weeks of intense diplomacy in the Southeast Asian region, after Biden and Xi met on Monday at the G20, which resulted in a thaw between the world’s leading economies following years of increasingly tense relations. EFE


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