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Biden to host Philippines, Japan leaders to counter China

By AFP

March 19, 2024 09:21 AM


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US President Joe Biden will hold the first three-way summit with the leaders of the Philippines and Japan next month, the White House said Monday, as the United States boosts alliances against China.

Biden's meeting with Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at the White House on April 11 is the latest in a series of meeting with Asia-Pacific allies.

It also comes against a backdrop of clashes between Philippines and Chinese vessels in the South China Sea, where the countries have contested maritime claims.

"The leaders will advance a trilateral partnership built on deep historical ties of friendship" including a "shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Biden will later hold a separate bilateral meeting with Marcos to "reaffirm the ironclad alliance" with the Philippines, she said.

Kishida will be at the White House for a state visit the day before, which had already been announced.

Japan believes the talks will boost a "free and open international order based on the rules of law," chief government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi said.

"With the Japan-US alliance as the linchpin, we believe that deepening cooperation with like-minded countries like the Philippines in a wide range of areas will be essential to maintaining the peace and prosperity of this region," he told reporters.

The US is redoubling efforts to improve longstanding ties with regional allies such as Tokyo and Manila, in an effort to counterbalance an increasingly aggressive China.

The announcement of the three-way summit came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was heading to Manila, a trip that the State Department said would reaffirm America's "unwavering commitment" to the Philippines.

Beijing recently accused Washington of using the Philippines as a "pawn" in the dispute over the South China Sea.

Japan and the Philippines meanwhile said during a visit by Kishida in November that they would begin negotiations for a defense pact that would allow them to deploy troops on each other's territory.

Japan invaded and occupied the Philippines during World War II, but the two countries have since grown closer due to trade and investment, and more recently, to counter China's assertiveness in the region.

Biden has also increasingly turned to the three-way summit format to build US alliances.

In August he hosted Japan's Kishida and South Korea's president Yoon Suk Yeol at his Camp David presidential retreat, in a bid to bring the two US allies closer after years of tensions.

Biden held a landmark summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in California in November in a bid to prevent conflict between the two superpowers but relations remain tense.


AFP


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