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NEWS | Nov. 16, 2023

Joint Press Statement for Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Meeting With Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

U.S. Department of Defense

U.S. Department of Defense and Philippine Department of National Defense spokespersons provided the following readout:

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro Jr met in Jakarta today on the margins of the ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

The Secretaries welcomed the historic momentum in U.S.-Philippine ties and discussed their mutual commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Philippine alliance, which has upheld peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region for over seventy years. They reaffirmed their countries' shared vision of a free and open region grounded in transparency, the rule of law, respect for sovereignty, and the peaceful resolution of disputes. 

Secretary Austin reiterated President Biden's message that the U.S. defense commitment to the Philippines is ironclad, and emphasized that the United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Philippines in defending its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Secretaries discussed the importance of preserving the rights of all nations to fly, sail, and operate safely and responsibly wherever international law allows. In this context, they denounced the recent harassment by vessels from the People's Republic of China (PRC) towards Philippine Coast Guard and resupply vessels conducting lawful resupply operations around Second Thomas Shoal, as well as dangerous operational PRC maneuvers against U.S. aircraft and ships lawfully operating in the South China Sea. Taking note of the concerns expressed about the PRC's recent harassment by a growing number of foreign governments globally, they also emphasized that the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal Ruling is final and binding on the Parties and called on the PRC to abide by its obligations under international law. The Secretaries reaffirmed that the Mutual Defense Treaty extends to both countries' armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft—including those of its Coast Guard—anywhere in the Pacific, to include the South China Sea.

The Secretaries highlighted the recent progress the two countries have made to modernize the alliance, enhance interoperability, and address new and emerging challenges. On this note, they welcomed progress in implementing the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), including the recent completion of a $24 million upgrade to the runway at Basa Airbase, and pledged to further accelerate EDCA implementation. They committed to explore further opportunities to strengthen bilateral operations and planning, including through the upcoming Balikatan 2024 exercise, and noted their desire to expand multilateral activities with like-minded partners. The Secretaries reaffirmed their commitment to the expeditious conclusion of a General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), as well as the bilateral Philippines Security Sector Assistance Roadmap. Secretary Austin welcomed the updates shared by Secretary Teodoro on the Philippines' Horizon III modernization plan and reiterated the U.S. commitment to supporting Philippine defense modernization.

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