US defense official, Lorenzana to discuss MDT 'ambiguities'
A senior US defense official will meet with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana at Camp Aguinaldo on Thursday to disicuss plans to amend the Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) and other matters of mutual concern between the two allies.
Lorenzana on Wednesday said he would hold exploratory talks with Joseph Felter, the US deputy assistant secretary of defense for South and Southeast Asia, on what the United States “thinks about our proposal to open discussions on what is in the MDT.”
Lorenzana has been pushing for a review of the MDT, which was signed in 1951, saying the ambiguities in the agreement needed to be removed, particularly the scope of “metropolitan Philippines.”
Return of bells
Felter also visited the Philippines in December last year to officially turn over the Balangiga bells, which the US government returned to Eastern Samar after 117 years.
The return of the bells was made possible though the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2018.
Meanwhile, the USS Chief, an Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, is in the country for a port visit.
“We are excited to make the most of this visit in hopes of fostering a strong relationship with the Filipino people and interact with the people we are sworn to defend through our mutual defense treaty,” said Lt. Commander Fred Crayton, the vessel’s commanding officer.