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Phl: 2 UK ships welcome at SEA

Should the plan push through, the ships might be stationed in Malaysia or Singapore.

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Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana / File photo/AFP

The Philippines welcomes the United Kingdom’s plan to permanently station two offshore patrol vessels (OPV) in Southeast Asia (SEA), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday.

“Yes, but (the deployment is) not in the Philippines,” Lorenzana told reporters.

Should the plan push through, the ships might be stationed in Malaysia or Singapore, he said.

“Not at the moment,” Lorenzana said when asked if the plan is seen to benefit the Philippines in particular.

Earlier, Lorenzana’s office announced that the plan was relayed to him by Right Honorable Amanda Milling, during the latter’s visit to Manila last Friday.

Milling, the UK’s new minister for Asia at the Foreign, Commonwealth, & Development Office, conveyed the intent to maintain two OPV permanently in Southeast Asia, is a demonstration of her country’s long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

Also discussed during their meeting was the security partnership among Australia, the UK, and the United States which, Milling emphasized, is to support Australia’s capability development to contribute to security in the region, the Department of National Defense (DND) said.

Lorenzana and Milling also discussed developments in bilateral defense cooperation.

The UK side also provided updates on the contract implementation of defense acquisition projects with the Philippines.

Both sides reaffirmed their intent to exchange resident defense attachés, as the two countries continue to increase cooperative engagements.

It was also noted during the meeting that the UK has been granted the status of dialogue partner by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since August.

The UK has applied for observer status in a meeting of regional defense experts, looking forward to sharing experience and expertise in military medicine and peacekeeping operations, the DND said.

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