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Iran Press TV

Obama to give two ships to Philippines in signal to China

Iran Press TV

Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:9PM

President Barack Obama announced that the United States will give two ships to the Philippine Navy to bolster maritime security around the island nation amid territorial disputes with China.

Obama arrived in Manila on Tuesday, opening a six-day diplomatic tour in Asia that is expected to be focused on the region's long-standing disputes and more immediate concerns about terrorism roiling the Middle East and Europe.

'My visit here underscores our shared commitment to the security of the waters of this region and to the freedom of navigation,' Obama said, with a towering warship behind him, formerly owned by the US Coast Guard.

Obama announced the US would hand over two additional ships– a US Coast Guard cutter and a research vessel.

'We have a treaty obligation, an ironclad commitment to the defense of our ally, the Philippines. You can count on the United States,' he said, with American and Philippine troops looking on.

Obama is expected to speak at the 13th session of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on Wednesday.

The US president will stay in the Philippines for three days and is slated to meet with President Benigno Aquino III to discuss the country's territorial row with China.

After the APEC summit, Obama will fly to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for the ASEAN and East Asia summits.

As regional tensions with China have simmered in recent years, the US has considered options to counter and test Beijing's claims in the region.

The US accuses China of conducting a massive "land reclamation" program through building artificial islands in the South China Sea.

The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims over parts of the vital waterway.

The deadly attacks in Paris last week and talk of intensifying the military campaign against the Daesh (ISIL) threaten to overshadow Obama's tour to Asia. The president hoped the trip would highlight progress in his "pivot" to the region.

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