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Philippines seeks US help to protect troops in disputed sea

Philippines seeks US help to protect troops in disputed sea

The Philippine defense chief said he asked the visiting U.S. Pacific commander on Wednesday to help protect the transport of fresh Filipino troops and supplies to Philippine-occupied reefs in the disputed South China Sea by deploying American patrol planes to discourage Chinese moves to block the resupply missions.

The Philippines has protested past attempts by Chinese coast guard ships to block smaller boats transporting fresh military personnel, food and other supplies to a Filipino military ship outpost at the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, which is also being claimed and guarded by Chinese coast guard ships. The tense standoff at the shoal has lasted two years.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said the commander, Adm. Harry Harris Jr., assured him of U.S. readiness to provide assistance, adding that the U.S. military has flown an aircraft at least once when a Philippine boat delivered supplies last year to Filipino marines marooned on a rusty naval ship that ran aground years ago at the disputed shoal.

Source: Philippines seeks US help to protect troops in disputed sea