WASHINGTON: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. made it clear Thursday the additional military bases in his country that he recently granted the United States access to will not be used to target China or any other country, reports Kyodo News.
Speaking at a think-tank event, Marcos also said the simple answer is no when asked if the United States has requested that his government contribute troops for combat operations should a war break out between Washington and Beijing over Taiwan.
China has dialed up pressure not only on Taiwan, which it claims as its own territory, but also on the Philippines with what Marcos called the intimidation of vessels in the South China Sea.
Marcos in February granted the United States access to four more bases, raising the number that American forces can use in the Philippines to nine, under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement that has made it even more difficult for him to walk a delicate diplomatic tightrope.
Marcos, who agreed with President Joe Biden this week to boost defense and economic cooperation, stressed that the additional bases were intended to be used in response to natural disasters, including quickly providing rescue and relief assistance.
At the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Marcos also disclosed that the United States has never brought up the possibility of using the sites for any offensive action against any country.