Hagel on US military presence in PH visit


CHUCK HAGEL. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (5th L-white hair) looks up prior to the start of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defense minister's meeting in Jerudong, some 20 km outside Brunei's capital Bandar Seri Begawan on August 29, 2013. AFP/Deen Kassim

Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel will discuss expanding the US military’s presence in the Philippines in a visit to the country Friday. Hagel flew into Manila Thursday amid fresh strains between the Philippines and China over disputes in the South China Sea. Philippine President Benigno Aquino called off a visit to Beijing next week at China’s request. Manila seeks military assistance from Washington, including ships and radar, to better monitor coastal waters against an increasingly aggressive China at sea. During his visit, Hagel is expected to discuss a proposed agreement to permit more American troops, ships and aircraft to pass through the Philippines on temporary deployments.

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