The anouncement came during meetings between the two countries in Washington, D.C. Attending the meetings were Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, and their U.S. counterparts Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
The two countries signed a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) in 1951, which remains in effect. The MDT requires both countries to come to the aid of each other in cases of external attacks.
The Philippines is currently in dispute with China over the Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, which sits just 124 nautical miles away from the Philippines province of Zambales. The Philippine government maintains that the Panatag Shoal is well within the country’s 200-nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf. China asserts that it has sovereign rights over the whole West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including potentially resource-rich Spratly and Paracel Islands, and the Scarborough Shoal.
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