(From Reuters)

Defense officials from the Philippines and Vietnam will meet this week to explore possible joint exercises and navy patrols, military sources said, shoring up a new alliance between states locked in maritime rows with China.

While Vietnam and the Philippines will discuss patrols and exercises, a deal is unlikely this week

Ties have strengthened between the two Southeast Asian countries as China’s assertiveness intensifies with a rapid build-up of man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago, to which Vietnam and the Philippines lay claim.

Both states are also on the receiving end of a renewed charm offensive by the United States, which is holding joint military exercises in the Philippines to be attended this week by U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Vietnam and the Philippines would discuss patrols and exercises, but a deal this week was unlikely, a senior military official said.

“These are initial discussions,” he said. “These may take time but we would like to move to the next level.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The information was confirmed by another defense ministry source in Manila. Read More

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