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Business News/ News / World/  India to step up defence ties with Philippines

NEW DELHI : India and the Philippines are looking to step up defence ties after the Southeast Asian nation’s high-profile purchase of a BrahMos missile. Negotiations on a defence line of credit have picked up, according to persons aware of the matter.

While the exact quantum of assistance being offered is under negotiation, officials from the Philippines have visited a number of Indian defence firms including Kalyani Strategic Systems to examine their products.

Replies to a query mailed to the company were awaited.

The offer of a line of credit, which was first made by India in 2018, was reiterated during a June meeting between foreign ministers S. Jaishankar and Enrique Manalo.

“On defence cooperation, both ministers expressed keen interest to continue to work together in this sector, including through the regular or upgraded official level interaction among defence agencies, opening of the resident defence attaché office in Manila, consideration of India’s offer for concessional line of credit to meet Philippines’ defence requirements, acquisition of naval assets, and expansion of training and joint exercises on maritime security and disaster response, among others," reads a joint statement released after the two foreign ministers met.

Beyond equipment, India has also offered assistance in hydrography and maritime affairs.

“Acknowledging the growing importance of the maritime sector for both countries, both Ministers welcomed the bilateral Maritime Dialogue and the increased cooperation on hydrography," reads the same joint statement.

“Both Ministers emphasized the utility of maritime domain awareness, and in this context called for early operationalization of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the White Shipping Agreement between the Indian Navy (IN) and the Philippines Coast Guard (PCG)," it also says.

The Indian Coast Guard and Philippines Coast Guard are also working on an MoU on Enhanced Maritime Cooperation

This comes at a time when the Philippines is facing increasing military pressure from China over disputed islands in the South China Sea. In early August, the Philippines accused Chinese vessels of trespassing into its waters and preventing the resupply of troops stationed in the Spratly islands. This has snowballed into a diplomatic spat with President Marcos of the Philippines publicly stating his concern over Chinese actions.

“They underlined that both countries have a shared interest in a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific region. They underlined the need for peaceful settlement of disputes and for adherence to international law, especially the UNCLOS and the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea in this regard," the two countries said in their joint statement after the June Foreign Ministers meeting. The 2016 Arbitral Award refers to a ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in favour of the Philippines which repudiated China’s expansive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

India has helped a number of regional countries like Vietnam build up their defence capacities in an effort to bolster their ability to stand up to China’s growing military power. India provided Vietnam a $100 million line of credit (LOC) under which the country purchased high-speed patrol boats from India. The two countries are also in talks for a new $500 million defence LOC.

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Updated: 15 Aug 2023, 09:54 PM IST
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