US to help Philippines monitor waters off coast

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, June 13, 2012
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The U.S. military is planning to help the Philippines with a coastal monitoring program, the U.S. Defense Department said Tuesday.

"We are in the initial planning stages of assisting the Philippines with a National Coast Watch Center," said Major Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The center will improve the Philippines' "maritime domain awareness of a breadth of security issues," she said.

However, Wilkinson said it is still "too early to determine the specific details of the project, such as what equipment the center might include, the cost or associated time line."

"Right now we are discussing a range of options and no details have been finalized," Wilkinson said. Also, land-based "radars may be an eventual part of the package, but it hasn't been determined yet."

The announcement came after Philippine President Benigno Aquino III visited his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama in the Oval Office last week.

In a joint statement, Obama reaffirmed U.S. support for the Philippines' efforts to build "a minimum credible defense posture," and support for the Philippine National Coast Watch System was one item cited in the statement.

The latest moves between the Philippines and the United States came as the Philippines is embroiled in a dispute with China after its provocative actions on waters near China's Huangyan Island in the South China Sea raised tensions.

China has been trying to resolve the current standoff through diplomatic consultations.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said in late May that China will negotiate directly with relevant parties in regards to resolving disputes in the South China Sea.

"China has long been committed to safeguarding peace and stability by consulting with ASEAN nations and signing agreements, such as the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

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