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Philippines and US intend to hold '2-plus-2' meeting in March, envoy says

Published 01/28/2024, 06:38 PM
Updated 01/28/2024, 08:01 PM
© Reuters. Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez speaks during a U.S. Trade and Development Agency Offshore Wind Grant Signing at Ayala Triangle Gardens in Manila, Philippines, August 6, 2022. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

MANILA (Reuters) -The Philippines and the United States intend to hold a "2-plus-2 meeting" of top diplomatic and defence officials in Manila in March, the Philippine ambassador to Washington said on Monday.

In a phone message, Jose Manuel Romualdez confirmed a Nikkei report citing sources on the discussions. He said there is an "intention" to hold a meeting, and the plan is "still a work in progress."

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin are expected to meet with counterparts Enrique Manalo and Gilberto Teodoro in March, the first of such dialogue in the Philippines since the format began in 2012, Nikkei reported.

Romualdez did not respond to a question on what will be the agenda of the planned meeting, which comes at a time of simmering tensions between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea.

The Philippines is a treaty ally of the United States.

© Reuters. Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez speaks during a U.S. Trade and Development Agency Offshore Wind Grant Signing at Ayala Triangle Gardens in Manila, Philippines, August 6, 2022. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

There was no immediate comment from the Philippines' defense secretary, the Philippine foreign ministry and the U.S. State Department. A spokesperson at the U.S. embassy in Manila said they had nothing to announce at this time.

The top foreign and defence officials of the United States and the Philippines met in Washington in April, resuming high-level dialogues after a seven-year halt that underlined moves by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr's government to reaffirm ties strained by his predecessor's anti-U.S. stance.

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