US, Philippines to resume '2-plus-2' meeting

The US and Philippine governments are to resume dialogue between their foreign and defense chiefs for the first time in seven years.

Senior officials of the two countries agreed to the restart when they met in the Philippine capital, Manila. The two-day meeting wrapped up on Friday.

A joint statement issued after the talks says the "two-plus-two" dialogue will take place by the end of the year.

The last such meeting was in 2016. Further talks were put on hold as bilateral relations became strained under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

The statement also says both sides confirmed they will complete procedures quickly to increase the number of bases the US military can use in the Philippines from the current five, based on a bilateral agreement.

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink later told reporters that the two countries' "ironclad" alliance "has contributed to the stability of the Indo-Pacific region for more than 75 years."

He said the alliance "will only grow in importance in the coming years."

Washington is apparently aiming to expand its military presence in the Philippines, as China increases its activities in the South China Sea and ramps up its military pressure on Taiwan.