US, Philippines discussing possibility of joint maritime patrols

The US Navy mine countermeasures ship USS Chief transits the South China Sea with the Philippine Navy patrol vessel BRP Ramon Alcaraz (in the background) after completing a maritime cooperative activity, March 21, 2019. (Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jordan Crouch)

Philippine media outlet GMA News reports that the governments of the United States and the Philippines are discussing the possibility of conducting joint maritime patrols in portions of the South China Sea within the latter country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Jose Manuel Romualdez, Philippine Ambassador to the US, confirmed earlier this week in Manila that activities related to defence cooperation between the two countries in the coming months will include enhanced patrols in the West Philippine Sea.

Although Mr Romualdez did not provide the media with details on the related activities, the ambassador assured that the discussions between the two governments are being done thoroughly and that a timeline of the joint EEZ patrols will be released once available.

Speaking at the same event in Manila, US Ambassador MaryKay Carlson said that the implementation of combined maritime activities is “vitally important” with regard to enhancing the Philippines’ security in the region.

Ms Carlson added that the US is “working very closely” with various local partners in the Philippines in the conduct of joint patrols and other activities.

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