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O'Brien announces delivery of missiles, bombs to Philippines

O'Brien announces delivery of missiles, bombs to Philippines
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National security adviser Robert O'BrienRobert O'BrienHuawei says sales rose in 2020, but growth slowed amid US sanctions White House aides head for exits after chaos at Capitol Top Melania Trump aide Stephanie Grisham resigns MORE on Monday announced that the U.S. government was sending the Philippine military an arsenal of missiles and bombs in an apparent show of support to its ally as it deals with Islamic militants and territory disputes.

At a ceremony in Manila, O’Brien announced the delivery of the weapons on behalf of President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE. According to Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Trump pledged $18 million worth of missiles when speaking to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during a phone conversation in the spring.

“President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” said O’Brien. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.”

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O’Brien stated that the U.S. stands with the Philippines as it seeks to protect its sovereignty in the South China Sea, The Associated Press reports. Last month, the country announced its plans to restart oil and gas exploration around Reed Bank, an area off of the country's west coast that is also claimed by China.

O’Brien said of the dispute, “They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong.”

He added, “Any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defense obligations,” echoing similar statements made by Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoSunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home Sunday shows preview: Infrastructure expected to dominate as talks continue to drag The triumph and tragedy of 1989: Why Tiananmen still matters MORE earlier this year.

As the AP notes, Pompeo heightened tensions with Beijing earlier this year when he said Washington considered all disputed maritime claims made by China to be illegitimate. China in turn accused the U.S. of sowing discord between it and its neighboring Asian nations.

In October the State Department announced new diplomatic actions in Asia, including appointing a special coordinator to Tibet and opening its first embassy in the Maldives. The small archipelago nation is struggling to repay loans from Beijing taken out during a previous administration.

Critics of the loans have expressed concern that difficulty in repaying them will result in “debt-trap diplomacy” with China in which the Maldives offers territorial security concessions to China to relieve the debt. The move by the U.S. to strengthen diplomatic ties with the Maldives was seen by many as a maneuver to establish its growing presence in the region against China.