US commander emphasises Philippine alliance amid China row
Published on Mar 18, 2014 7:50 PM
MANILA (AFP) - The US Pacific commander on Tuesday emphasised the Philippines' importance as a military ally, as Filipino forces were involved in an increasingly tense standoff with Chinese ships in the South China Sea.
"Our 62-year alliance with the Philippines remains key to our efforts to ensure the stability and prosperity of the Western Pacific," Vice-Admiral Robert Thomas told reporters in Manila.
He sailed to the Philippine capital on Tuesday aboard his command ship, the USS Blue Ridge, days after the latest of a series of hostile encounters between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea.
China said its coastguard on March 9 blocked two Philippine-flagged vessels approaching Second Thomas Shoal, which is guarded by a small group of Filipino marines but is also claimed by China.
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