Aug 202013
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will visit the Philippines later this month as negotiations on the framework of increased rotational presence of American troops in the Philippines continue between the two countries.

In a statement, the Pentagon said that Hagel’s visit will cap the series of stops on the Secretary’s upcoming Southeast Asian trip. Hagel will start in Malaysia from Aug. 24 to 26, followed by Indonesia from Aug. 26 to 27, and Brunei from Aug. 27 to 29

In Brunei, Hagel will “meet with defense counterparts from across the Asia-Pacific region,” said the Pentagon.

The US official will meet with defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries on Aug. 28.

The next day, Hagel will participate in the Asian Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus meeting.

“Secretary Hagel will conclude his trip in Manila on August 29-30 and return to Washington the evening of August 30,” the statement said.

The visit of Hagel will come as Philippines and US officials are negotiating the framework of the increased rotational presence of US forces in the country.

The talks between the US and the Philippines began last Wednesday in Camp Aguinaldo. According to officials, at least three more rounds may be held before an agreement can be reached.

The next round of negotiations will be held in Washington later this month, said Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta, who heads the Philippine government’s negotiating panel. — BM, GMA News

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