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US to defend Philippines if attacked in South China Sea: Blinken
In meetings in Manila dominated by talk of US-China tensions over US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Blinken said a 70-year-old defense pact with the Philippines was “ironclad”.

“An armed attack on the Philippine armed forces, government vessels and aircraft will invoke the mutual defense commitments of the United States under this treaty,” Blinken said at a press conference.

“The Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner and ally of the United States.”

Blinken was the highest-ranking U.S. official to meet new President Ferdinand Marcos Jnr., the son of the late strongman whom Washington helped flee into exile in Hawaii during a 1986 “people power” uprising that put down end to his two-decade reign.

In his opening remarks to Blinken, Marcos sought to downplay the diplomatic flare-up over Taiwan and said he believed Pelosi’s trip “did not increase the intensity” of an already volatile situation.

“We’ve been at this level for quite a while, but we kind of got used to the idea,” Marcos said.

The Philippines is at the heart of the geopolitical rivalry between the United States and China, and Marcos faces a delicate challenge to balance the ties between the two great powers.

It will also face domestic pressures to stand up to China in the South China Sea without angering its leaders.

US-Philippine relations have been rocked by his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte’s overtures to China, his notorious anti-US rhetoric and his threats to downgrade their military ties.

On Saturday, Philippine Foreign Minister Enrique Manalo said President Joe Biden had invited Marcos to Washington and the two parties were working on a suitable date.

Marcos has not been to the United States in over a decade, largely due to a contempt of court order for his refusal to cooperate with a Hawaii court, which in 1995 ordered the Marcos family to return $2 billion of missing state wealth to victims of abuse. by the state during the reign of his father.

Marcos Jr. and his mother, Imelda, also face a $353 million fine.

The US Embassy in Manila said heads of state enjoy diplomatic immunity.

Manalo said Washington was an important ally, but regarding neighboring Taiwan, he told Blinken that the Philippines is “looking to the big powers to help calm the waters.”

“We cannot afford a further escalation of tensions,” he said.


cnn

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