Philippines hopes to sign troops pact with Japan in Q1

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines hopes to sign in the first quarter of the year an agreement with Japan allowing the deployment of military forces on each other’s soil, Manila’s defence minister said on Tuesday.

The Philippines is strengthening its ties with neighbours and other countries to counter what it calls an increasingly aggressive Beijing in the South China Sea.

The Philippines and Canada are also working on a memorandum of understanding for enhanced defence cooperation, Defence Secretary Gilberto Teodoro told reporters on the sidelines of a cybersecurity forum.

Japan and the Philippines, two close allies of the United States, started negotiations on a reciprocal troop access deal in November.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Writing by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)