WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III hosted Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana today at the Pentagon.
"The Philippines is a vital treaty ally. Our countries face a range of 21st century challenges, and cooperation is key to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific," Austin said.
The secretary mentioned that the two nations recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Mutual Defense Treaty, which was signed Aug. 30, 1951. That treaty, he said, "remains the bedrock of our alliance."
Austin said he was pleased Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in July retracted the letter that would have terminated the visiting forces agreement.
The agreement allows the DOD to conduct over 300 bilateral engagements a year with the armed forces of the Philippines. These range from expert exchanges to ship visits to component exercises and major joint/combined training exercises.
The secretary said he's looking forward to discussions on several priority areas, including maritime cooperation, modernizing the armed forces of the Philippines and increasing interoperability, information sharing and investments.
America is committed to a sovereign and secure Philippines and to building an even stronger alliance based on our foundation of common interest and common values. And I look forward to discussing ways that we can deepen our partnership," Austin said.
Lorenzana said the two nations have shared goals in the Indo-Pacific region that include a stable and secure environment.
"Regional instability necessitates a network of effective alliances and defense partnerships," he said.
The current modernization of the armed forces of the Philippines has been one of the main areas of alliance cooperation with the United States, he said.
"I'm optimistic that today's discussion will continue to build on the friendship, partnership and alliance between our two countries, which is founded on our shared system, history and cooperation," Lorenzana said.