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US-Japan-PH trilateral meet set next week

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A trilateral meeting between the Philippines, United States, and Japan on further enhancing defense and economic cooperation will be held in Manila next week, multiple sources said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japan Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa will be in the capital ahead of a planned summit of their leaders in Washington on April 11.

Sources said President Marcos will visit the United States from April 11 to 13, when he will have a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House before the trilateral summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Mr. Marcos will also meet top US security officials during his visit as well as attend a business forum organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council.

Blinken will reportedly arrive in Manila on March 18 for bilateral talks with Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo and other senior Philippine officials.

The trilateral ministerial meeting with Kamikawa, on the other hand, will be on March 20.

“Japan is really a major partner and ally for our defense and security plus our economic relations,” a highly placed source told GMA News Online.

The US and Japan have been very vocal in supporting the Philippines amid China’s aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea.

The Philippines and the US have a Mutual Defense Treaty that commitsthe two allies to come to each other’s aid if one becomes the subject of an armed attack in the region.

Manila also has ongoing negotiations with Tokyo for a Reciprocal Access Agreement that will allow larger numbers of Japanese Self Defense forces to enter the Philippines for joint military training.

China has repeatedly denounced joint military exercises and patrols in the South China Sea, saying the US was militarizing the contested region and threatening regional stability.

China claims almost the entirety of the South China Sea as its own, ignoring legal precedents and competing claims from a host of Southeast Asian nations.

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