By Mick Krever, CNN
A new 10-year military agreement between the United States and the Philippines was “not designed” to counter China, Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed the deal during the last stop of his four-nation tour of Asia. It will allow America a greater military presence in the Philippines, a former American colony and long-time ally.
Ambassador Cuisia spoke with Amanpour having just departed a banquet with the American President and Philippine President Benigno Aquino.
Like Japan, another stop on Obama’s tour, the Philippines has territorial disputes with China.
“It will certainly strengthen the defense and security alliance between the United States and the Philippines,” Ambassador Cuisia said.
It will promote better cooperation between the two countries’ militaries, help modernize the Filipino military, enhance the Philippines’ capacity to provide disaster relief, and help the country’s economy, he said.
But countering China, he said, was not among the goals.
“I think we’ve been discussing this for some time, and even before these tensions arose between China and the Philippines, China and Japan.”
The American president expressed a similar sentiment earlier in the day.
“Our goal is not to counter China, our goal is not to contain China,” President Obama said after signing a security agreement with President Aquino. “Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected.”
The Philippines, the ambassador said, wants “a more mature and forward-looking agreement with the United States.”
Just like the United States, Ambassador Cuisia said, the Philippines “would like to maintain good relations with China” – but emphasizes that the country must abide by international norms.
Is the Filipino government confident that America would come to its aid if a conflict with China were to arise?
“The Philippines is looking, of course, to the U.S. to respect its obligations under the mutual-defense treaty – as well as the visiting forces agreement,” he said.