Al Kuwaitiah  

Sunday, May 31, 2020

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Philippines , U.S. begin military exercises near disputed seas

Thousands of Philippine and American soldiers began annual war games on Monday near disputed waters in the South China Sea, testing the readiness of the two oldest security allies in the southeast Asian region to respond to any emergency.
The Philippines has territorial disputes with China over the South China Sea, which is said to be rich in energy deposits and carries about $5 billion in ship-borne trade every year. The Spratlys in the South China Sea are also claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Nearly 5,000 U.S. and Filipino troops will participate in the 11-day annual exercise, to be held in the Philippines' western island of Palawan, near the Spratlys, and in the northwest province of Zambales on the main island of Luzon, just 100 miles (160 km) off Scarborough Shoal.
The joint air and marine exercises "Philippine Bilateral Exercises," or Phiblex, will focus more closely on maritime security and territorial defence operations as China continues to step up its presence and activities in the region.
"We're hoping to gain new techniques from the U.S. marine corps," Captain Reyson Talingdan, head of the public affairs of the Philippines' 3rd Marine Brigade in Palawan, told reporters.
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