US may put up structures in Philippines

US may put up structures in Philippines

US - American forces may be allowed to put up structures during their increased rotational presence in the Philippines, as long as the structures are temporary, Philippine officials said on Wednesday.

"The possibility of construction is there, (but) only if we approve it and only on a temporary basis. At the end of the exercise these will be removed or transferred to us," Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Carlos Sorreta told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo during a press briefing.

The officials held a press briefing for the first time, after the third round of talks on the increased rotational presence of American troops held last week in Washington.

Mr Sorreta said there are existing processes on transfer of equipment between the two countries.

"Anything they construct will have to be monitored and approved by the (Armed Forces of the Philippines)," he said, adding that these will "be only for a specific type and it will be removed at the end of the activity".

In the third round of talks, Philippine officials and their US counterparts agreed that their "respective defence departments would be the designated implementing authorities of the framework agreement".

"Both sides concurred that the designated authorities of the agreement would be the Department of National Defence and the US Department of Defence. This reflects the very nature of the agreement that it is an executive agreement," said Defence Undersecretary Pio Lorenzo Batino, head of the Philippine panel of negotiators.

The next round of talks will be held in Manila on Oct 1 and 2.

Mr Sorreta said they were now "past the halfway mark" of the negotiations, although he could not determine when the agreement would be completed.

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