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07:53 AM, March 21, 2016
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US Troops to Be Based 160 Miles From Chinese Forces in Disputed Islands
Mischief Islands, South China Sea

A Philippines-U S agreement to allow the latter base its troops and equipment in five Islands in the South China Sea will allow American troops within 186 miles of east of Panganiban (Mischief) Reef, an outcrop occupied by China in the 1990s despite angry claims by the Philippines.

Bautista Air Base is just 300 kilometres (186 miles) east of Panganiban (Mischief) Reef,. Another base, the Basa Air Base is about 330 kilometres from Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, occupied by Chinese vessels after a tense confrontation with Philippine ships in 2012.

The other bases through which US forces can rotate are a major army training camp which also has its own airstrip in the north, and two air bases in the central and southern islands of the Philippines.

US ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg was quoted as saying in Washington that US personnel and equipment would arrive “very soon,” the Philippine Star reported.

Under the agreement reached Friday last, US forces would be able to rotate through five Philippine bases, including those close to the South China Sea “The five agreed locations reaffirms the shared commitment of the Philippines and US to strengthening their alliance in terms of ensuring both countries’ mutual defence and security,” Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose said in a statement.

Defense spokesman Peter Galvez said separately the agreement “would greatly enhance our capabilities” in maritime security and disaster relief.

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