US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral press conference with the Philippines President Benigo Aquino (not in picture) at Malacanang Palace in Manila on April 28, 2014. AFP photo
MANILA, Philippines: President Barack Obama said on Monday that the United States does not intend to counter China's perceived increasing aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
"Our goal is not to counter China. Our goal is not to contain China. Our goal is to make sure that international rules and norms are respected and that includes in the area of maritime dispute," Obama said in a televised joint press conference with President Benigno Aquino III in Malacañang after their expanded bilateral meeting on Monday afternoon.
Obama, however, assured that the US is supportive of the Philippines' move to bring the territorial dispute before an arbitration tribunal.
He said this approach by the Philippine government is a "sound" one.
The American leader said coercion and intimidation is not the way to manage the maritime disputes. He said the US is after maritime stability and freedom of navigation.
Aquino, on the other hand, assured that the Philippines is not a military threat to any country.
Earlier today, the two countries reached a 10-year agreement allowing the increased presence of American troops in the Philippines who will be provided with greater access to local military bases.
The new defense deal was signed while China continues to press its sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea.
Obama is on his two-day visit in the Philippines, the final leg of his four-nation Asian tour. (The Philippine Star)