Secretary of Defense Ash Carter met with his Philippine counterpart Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin in Hawaii today, where they reaffirmed the strong and enduring ties between our two nations. Secretary Carter welcomed the opportunity to discuss regional security issues with one of our closest allies in the Asia-Pacific, and stressed that the U.S. commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad.
The U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty has bound our countries for more than 60 years. President Obama said in Manila last year, it pledges our two nations' "common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone."
The two sides agreed that all parties involved in the South China Sea should seek a peaceful resolution of disputes, immediately halt land reclamation, and stop further militarization of disputed features.
Secretaries Carter and Gazmin also agreed to hold, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a 2-plus-2 meeting as soon as possible. This 2-plus-2 will meet at the assistant secretary-level to consult on regional security issues of mutual interest, including the South China Sea.