American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel called his Philippine counterpart yesterday to congratulate him on the recent signing of the U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
In a statement summarizing the call, Kirby said Hagel thanked Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his department for their support for the effort.
Hagel also welcomed the opportunity for U.S. forces to train with the Philippine armed forces in the Balikatan exercise, which begins today, and he noted the exercise’s importance to regional security, the press secretary added. Balikatan means “shoulder-to-shoulder.”
The two defense secretaries “recalled fondly” their discussions during the U.S.-Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Forum in Hawaii last month, and said they look forward to meeting again during the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus in Burma later this year, Kirby said.