MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana met with his American counterpart, US Defense Secretary James Mattis, to discuss the fight against the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS), maritime security, and the defense relationship between their countries.
Lorenzana and Mattis met at the Pentagon, the headquarters of the US defense department, on Tuesday, September 18. The Philippine embassy in the US sent a press release on this on Wednesday, September 19.
In a readout of their meeting, Pentagon Chief Spokesperson Dana White said Lorenzana and Mattis met at the Pentagon “to reaffirm the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and the Philippines.”
“The leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, to include their commitment to fighting terrorism and reaffirmed US military advisory support to assist the Philippines in combating ISIS and other violent extremist networks,” White said.
“Secretary Mattis thanked Secretary Lorenzana for his country’s contribution to maritime security through its trilateral air and maritime patrols with Indonesia and Malaysia in the Sulu and Celebes Seas,” she added.
The meeting between Lorenzana and Mattis comes as their countries’ relationship remains tense because of tirades by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Just a month ago, Duterte lashed out at the US after an American defense official warned the Philippines not to buy Russian military equipment. Duterte had also questioned the US’ commitment to “die” for the Philippines in the face of extremists.
The President’s men, however – including Lorenzana, a former Philippine defense attaché to the US – continue working with Washington on the ground. – Rappler.com