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Philippine, Australia to cooperate on military exercises


08:19, November 12, 2012

MANILA, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines and Australia have started discussions for the possible participation of Australian troops in the annual Philippine-U.S. Balikatan exercise and the participation of Philippine troops in Australian exercises with other countries, Philippine military announced Sunday.

The Department of National Defense (DND) Office of the assistant Secretary for Strategic Affairs said in a statement, " explored in the meeting were Australian troops taking part in Philippine-U.S. Balikatan Exercises while Philippine forces joining the Australian Kakadu and Pitch Black Exercises."

Kakadu is a vital maritime exercises involving Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Malaysia. Meanwhile, Pitch Black is an air combat exercises conducted by Australia with Singapore, New Zealand and Thailand.

The discussions occurred during a joint defense cooperation committee meeting held on Oct. 24 and 25 in Manila. The meeting occurred three months after the Senate's ratification of the Philippine-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement.

The statement also said, "Australia would continue to contribute to Philippine defense capacity building, offering a number of graduate and training courses as well as subject matter experts and mobile training teams for 2013."

In a phone interview, Department of National Defense spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said more discussions will be held regarding the participation of Australia in the Balikatan exercises. Also, he said the United States would have to agree before Australia can join the activity.

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