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Philippines says Obama visit will boost US alliance

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

US President Barack Obama's visit to the Philippines next month will help expand security ties with its longtime Asian ally, the Filipino government said Saturday.

The White House announced Friday that Obama will make a four-nation Asia tour to Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines from October 6-12.

"President Obama will meet President Aquino to discuss ways to further strengthen the enduring Philippines-US alliance, including the expansion of our security, economic, and people-to-people ties," Philippine President Benigno Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a statement.

The visit comes amid talks between the two allies on expanding American military presence in the Philippines, at a time when Manila seeks to counter what it perceives as a growing threat from China.

The proposed deal would allow more US troops, aircraft and ships to temporarily pass through the Philippines, as Washington refocuses its attention on Asia.

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said after a visit to the Philippines last month that the two sides were moving towards completing a framework agreement. Filipino officials have earlier expressed optimism the talks would be finalised this year.

The United States had closed down large bases in the Philippines, a former US colony, amid anti-American sentiment.

But the Philippines now faces territorial disputes at sea with China and has asked for US assistance to better monitor coastal waters.

The United States, meanwhile, is seeking to bolster its ties across Southeast Asia, partly to counter China's growing military power.

Obama's visit to the Philippines will fall on October 11-12, said Lacierda in the statement.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130913/philippines-says-obama-visit-will-boost-us-alliance