(AFP) – May 24, 2008
MANILA (AFP) — US and Philippine forces will carry out joint naval exercises off Palawan, the closest major Philippine island to the disputed Spratlys chain in the South China Sea, a report said Saturday.
The joint exercises will begin Monday, Vice Admiral William Douglas Crowder, commander of the US seventh fleet flagship the USS Blue Ridge, told the Philippine Star newspaper.
About four US ships will sail to Palawan, southwest of Manila, for the combined naval war games involving about a thousand US and Filipino sailors, the newspaper said.
The Spratlys, a chain of islands and atolls believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits, are claimed in full or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. All but Brunei have troops posted on some of the islands.
Naval officials told the paper the exercises would be held within the territorial waters of Palawan, away from the Spratlys, which are located off the island's western coast.
Military spokesmen in Manila would not confirm the report.
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