US will defend Philippines if attacked in South China Sea: Blinken

In conferences in Manila dominated by dialogue on simmering US-China tensions over the Taiwan go to of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Blinken mentioned a 70-year-old protection pact with the Philippines was “ironclad.”

“An armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels and aircraft will invoke US mutual defense commitments under that treaty,” Blinken informed a information convention.

“The Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner, and ally to the United States.”

Blinken was essentially the most senior US official to satisfy new President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr., the son of the late strongman who Washington helped to flee into exile in Hawaii throughout a 1986 “people power” rebellion that ended his two-decade rule.

In opening remarks to Blinken, Marcos sought to downplay the diplomatic flare-up over Taiwan and mentioned he believed Pelosi’s journey “did not raise the intensity” of a scenario that was already risky.

“We have been at that level for a good while, but we have sort of got used to the idea,” Marcos mentioned.

The Philippines is a fulcrum of the geopolitical rivalry between the US and China and Marcos faces a difficult problem in balancing ties between the 2 main powers.

He will even face home strain to face as much as China within the South China Sea, with out angering its management.

US-Philippines ties have been shaken by predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s overtures in the direction of China, his well-known anti-US rhetoric and threats to downgrade their army ties.

On Saturday, Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo mentioned President Joe Biden had invited Marcos to Washington, and either side have been engaged on an acceptable date.

Marcos has not been to the US in additional than a decade, due largely to a contempt of court docket order for his refusal to cooperate with a Hawaii court docket, which in 1995 ordered the Marcos household to return $2 billion of lacking state wealth to victims of abuses by the state underneath his father’s rule.

Marcos Jnr. and mom, Imelda, additionally face a $353 million positive.

The US embassy in Manila has mentioned heads of state have diplomatic immunity.

Manalo mentioned Washington was an essential ally, however regarding close by Taiwan he informed Blinken the Philippines “looks at the big powers to help calm the waters.”

“We can ill afford any further escalation of tensions,” he mentioned.

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