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Phl, US conclude 8th round of talks on rotating troops

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The Philippines and the United States concluded the eighth round of negotiations for a framework agreement on the increased rotational presence of US forces in the Southeast Asian country, a senior government official said today.

Defense Undersecretary and Chairman of the Philippine Negotiating Panel Pio Lorenzo Batino said the two sides found consensus on key points of a draft agreement.

"This round brought us much closer to finding full consensus, and the draft provisions on key points of an enhanced defense cooperation will be submitted to (Philippine President Benigno Aquino) for his review," Batino said in a statement.

The draft agreement states that US access to and use of armed forces of the Philippines' (AFP) facilities and areas will be "at the invitation of the Philippines and with full respect for Philippine Constitution and Philippine laws."

The pact will also indicate that the United States will not establish a permanent military presence or base in the Philippines.

Batino said the United States has also agreed that any equipment and material that its military will bring into the country will not include nuclear weapons.

The seventh and eighth round of negotiations on the increased rotational presence of US forces in the Philippines were both held here.

Earlier, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr. said the Philippines would ensure that its interests are protected during talks on the increased rotational presence of US troops.  

The Philippine government has also said it will not rush to complete an agreement so that it could be signed by the time when US President Barack Obama visits the country this month.  


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