WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Philippines Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana on the phone today, to reaffirm their shared commitment to the U.S.-Philippines alliance.
Secretaries Austin and Lorenzana discussed the situation in the South China Sea, and the recent massing of People’s Republic of China maritime militia vessels at Whitsun Reef. Secretary Austin reiterated the U.S. commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, rooted in international law, including the U.N Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Secretary proposed several measures to deepen defense cooperation between the United States and the Philippines, including by enhancing situational awareness of threats in the South China Sea.
The two leaders also affirmed the value of the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement. They pledged to stay in close contact.