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Tuesday March 05, 2024

Philippines, France to pursue key defence pact

By AFP
December 03, 2023

MANILA: Defence ministers for the Philippines and France vowed Saturday to pursue an agreement that would allow them to deploy troops to each other’s territories, the latest such deal sought by the archipelagic nation located in the strategic South China Sea.

Speaking following a meeting in Manila, Philippine Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu said they agreed to seek authorisation from their respective presidents and relevant agencies to start negotiations for a visiting forces agreement. The Philippines already has similar pacts with the United States and Australia, and has agreed to start talks for one with Japan.

Frances Minister for the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu (L) speaks during a joint press conference with Secretary of National Defense of Philippines Gilbert Teodoro, at a hotel in Manila on December 2, 2023. —AFP
France's Minister for the Armed Forces Sebastien Lecornu (L) speaks during a joint press conference with Secretary of National Defense of Philippines Gilbert Teodoro, at a hotel in Manila on December 2, 2023. —AFP 

Manila has been seeking to boost defence ties in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond in the face of China’s increasing confidence in asserting its claims over the South China Sea.

The agreements create the legal framework for countries to send defence personnel to each other’s territory for training and other operations.

“We agreed to work on shared values, shared cooperation, not only in the South China Sea but also in the greater Pacific area where France also has a presence and which we want to further defence cooperation and presence with the other Oceanic nations,” Teodoro said.

Neither Teodoro nor Lecornu provided a timeline for the start of talks on a visiting forces agreement. It was part of a “letter of intent” signed by the pair to “raise the level of interaction and to consolidate their exchanges through practical cooperation”, a joint statement said.