NEW MILITARY MUSCLE
The focus of talks between Biden and Yoon last week was on another regional flashpoint: Nuclear-armed North Korea.
Expressing disappointment that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, US officials announced that a US nuclear submarine would make a visit to South Korea soon – the first in decades.
During Kishida’s visit, Biden also underlined the US treaty commitment to defend Japan. Tokyo is meanwhile on a shopping spree to buy an arsenal of US-made Tomahawk missiles.
The senior official briefing journalists ahead of Marcos Jr’s visit said Manila is likewise “looking for reassurance and a strong desire to maintain peace and stability in this complex period”.
“Recent events have caused much greater focus in both capitals on taking the necessary steps to up our game, to improve engagement on the security side between the United States and the Philippines.”
Although giving few details, the official said new “bilateral defence guidelines” would see “a series of steps to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines modernisation”.
In an acknowledgement of Philippine sensitivities about the US troop presence, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphasised that the sites slated to be used by the United States remain part of the Filipino military and “every single step of the way will be done in complete coordination”.
“It’s about our ability to be better allies to one another and meet our commitments to each other,” he said.
The shifting geostrategic situation in the Asia-Pacific region will be a major topic when Biden visits Japan for a G7 meeting later in the month.
The US official said Biden would also meet separately during that trip in a trilateral format with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. He then heads to Australia for a session of the Quad group: Australia, India, Japan and the United States.