Biden, Marcos discuss military alliance, South China Sea

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has held his first face-to-face talks with US President Joe Biden since taking office in June.

They discussed strengthening the military alliance between the two countries and the situations in the South China Sea, where Beijing is stepping up maritime activities.

The two leaders held talks on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Thursday.

Biden said he wants to discuss the South China Sea and disputes in a critical global throughway.

Marcos said, "the role of the United States in maintaining the peace in our region is something that is much appreciated by all the countries in the region and the Philippines especially."

The Philippines has territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

Biden called on Marcos to enhance the military alliance between their countries. Marcos said the Philippines will continue cooperative relations with the US.

The two presidents confirmed the US commitment to the defense of the Philippines and stressed the importance of freedom of navigation.

The Philippines is a key ally for the US in countering China.

Observers say Marcos has clarified his stance of placing importance on relations with the US, in a departure from policies of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, who had kept a distance from the US.