WASHINGTON -- Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder provided the following readout:
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Philippines Senior Undersecretary and Officer in Charge of the Department of National Defense Jose Faustino, Jr. on the phone today to discuss opportunities to further modernize and strengthen the U.S.-Philippines alliance. This was their first phone call since Senior Undersecretary Faustino assumed his current roles.
The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of the U.S.-Philippines alliance, especially in light of changing regional dynamics in the Indo-Pacific. Secretary Austin noted that the U.S. commitment to Philippine security is ironclad, and that U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty commitments extend to Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft in the South China Sea. Secretary Austin and Senior Undersecretary Faustino agreed to continue close operational coordination in the region.
Both leaders noted the importance of enhancing the posture of the alliance to address new and emerging challenges, including by deepening cooperation under the Visiting Forces Agreement and the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement. Secretary Austin also expressed his thanks for the Philippines’ support for the people of Ukraine.
The Secretaries closed the call by underscoring the importance of a free, open, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.