PH officials to meet with US Pacific Command chief in Hawaii
Philippine government officials led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana are scheduled to meet with the chief of the US Pacific Command in Hawaii.
Joining the meeting with Adm. Harry Harris Jr. are Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, according to Defense spokesperson Dir. Arsenio Andolong.
The trip comes amid China’s massive military buildup in the South China Sea, but Andolong could not give details of the trip’s agenda.
“Everything is open to speculation but we don’t know exactly what they would discuss. They may or may not [tackle the South China Sea issue]. What is interesting here is Secretary Año and ES are joining,” Andolong told reporters on Thursday.
The trip will be from May 17 to 21.
Harris, a vocal critic to China’s military expansion in the South China Sea, is set to retire from the service later this month and is reportedly being considered to serve as the next US ambassador to South Korea or Australia. He will be replaced by Adm. Philip Davidson.
The US PACOM’s area of responsibility includes the Asia-Pacific. It conducts freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea and describes its mission as “enhancing stability in the Asia-Pacific region by promoting security cooperation, encouraging peaceful development, responding to contingencies, deterring aggression, and when necessary, fighting to win.” /ee
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