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US Military 'Pivot' in Motion as Officials Meet in Philippines

Five-year joint US-Philippine military exercise plan to be approved this week

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Keeping a promise to once again increase its military presence in the South China Sea, U.S. officials met with the Philippine government Wednesday to work out the logistics for more U.S. military ships, aircraft and troops to rotate through the Philippines and the region.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell (R) joins hands with U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert (2nd R), Philippines ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia and Philippines Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Erlinda Basilio (L) during a joint news conference after their meeting at a hotel in Manila December 12, 2012. (Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo) The U.S. military has become an increasingly common sight in the mineral-rich waters, consistent with the Obama administration's proposed "pivot" in foreign policy concerns to Asia. Although the U.S. is no stranger to the region, recent years have seen another surge in U.S. interest, as the Philippines, who are engaged in an ongoing row with China over resources and territorial control in the South China Sea, have been courted by Washington's military might.

Senior U.S. and Philippine officials said the purpose of the meeting in Manila Wednesday was to discuss security and economic ties between the two countries, as well as China's claims in its surrounding waters.

Philippine defense and diplomatic officials said on Wednesday to expect a significant increase in U.S. ships, aircraft and troops in the future—with a a five-year joint U.S.-Philippine military exercise plan to be approved this week.