MANILA: The Philippines hopes to ink a reciprocal troops access deal with Japan at "the soonest possible time," Manila's Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro said on Monday.
The Philippines and Japan have agreed to start negotiations on a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) that would allow both countries to deploy their forces on each other's soil.
"We look forward to this reciprocal access agreement between both our countries given the commitment of the Japanese government and the Philippine government to preserve the rules-based international order and international law," Teodoro told a press briefing.
Once the agreement is sealed, Teodoro said it would have to be submitted to the Philippines Senate and Japanese legislature for ratification.
Negotiations for an RAA would strengthen military cooperation between the Philippines and Japan, two of the United States' closest Asian allies, at a time of rising maritime tensions in the region and an increasingly assertive China.