Monday, November 21, 2011

Philippines Asks S. Korea For Military Hardware

Manila - Philippine President Benigno Aquino asked his visiting counterpart from South Korea on Monday for aircraft, boats and other hardware to help boost his country's military, amid rising tensions with China.
Aquino said he and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak discussed their respective regional security concerns, which for the Philippines is the disputed South China Sea, where China has been accused of bullying.
"On defence cooperation, I expressed to President Lee the interest of the Philippines to gain some specific defence articles such as military-grade helicopters, boats and aircrafts," Aquino said in a joint forum.
"This is in consonance with the upgrading and modernisation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines."
Lee did not disclose any response to the specific request but said South Korea wanted to cooperate with the Philippines to resolve its maritime problems.
"We agreed that we will continue to work together so that we can peacefully resolve this issue according to international rule, norms and standards," said Lee, who is on a three-day visit to the Philippines.
Aquino has this year begun upgrading the Philippines' military, which is one of the weakest in the region with its navy made up of mostly World War II-era ships and its air force consisting of Vietnam War-vintage planes.
He has said the Philippines needs to be able to defend its claims to waters and islands of the South China Sea.
China and Taiwan claim the South China Sea in full, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei have claims to parts of the area, which is believed to hold vast oil and gas deposits.
The Philippines has accused the Chinese military of aggressive acts in the Philippine-claimed areas of the sea this year, including firing on Filipino fishermen, laying buoys and harassing an oil exploration vessel.
Aquino and Lee also oversaw the signing of economic agreements, the most significant of which will see South Korea provide the Philippines with up to $500 million in development loans from 2011 to 2013.
South Korea will also help build a coal-fired power plant in a free-trade zone on the main Philippine island of Luzon, and a dam on a river in the central island of Panay.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the dam project was worth $300 million.

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