US: No large-scale exercises with Philippines in November

MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - No large-scale military exercises are scheduled between the Philippines and the US for next month, the US Embassy in Manila said.

The statement comes after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said China expressed concerns over the reported plan of the US to hold naval exercises in the South China Sea that might coincide with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s to Manila in November.

“There are no major US-Philippine military exercises planned for November,” said Embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina on Wednesday night.

“The US and the Philippines enjoy ongoing, close cooperation in areas central to our national and security interests, including counterterrorism, maritime security, cyber security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and many others,” she added.

Koscina also noted that the Philippines and US agreed to increase cooperation activities next year by 10 percent.

China concern

Reports that the Philippines and the US would hold massive joint drills in the South China Sea was raised by the Chinese ambassador to Manila Zhao Jianhua during a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte last Monday, Roque said.

China reportedly feared that the drills would take place as Xi makes his state visit to Manila in the third week of November.

Roque said the President assured Zhao that the Philippines would not take part in any exercise with the US.

“We don’t want anything to mar the visit of President Xi. I think the Department of Foreign Affairs will do all that it can to make sure that President Xi’s visit will be fruitful and as productive as we want it to be. We want a seamless visit of President Xi,” he said.

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