Phl eyes frigates from India
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - October 23, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines, which is beefing up its defense capability, is considering the procurement of naval frigates from India.

Philippine officials discussed this the other day with a visiting delegation from India led by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

India has intensified its engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of its “Look East” policy in the past decade.

Khurshid, who met yesterday with Vice President Jejomar Binay, said the relationship between the two countries is “extremely important.”

“Now is the time to begin a new chapter,” Khurshid said yesterday over lunch with Filipino officials as he emphasized the two countries’ “shared aspirations and shared attitudes.”

The Philippines is eyeing the procurement of two frigates from India, a nuclear power with its own military shipbuilding capability.

India has built its own stealth-capable warship, which visited Manila several months ago. The Indians are developing their first aircraft carrier and will acquire one soon from Russia.

Like the Philippines, India has a territorial dispute with its neighbor China. Khurshid told The STAR yesterday that his government was pursuing engagement with the Chinese.

The other day, Khurshid and his delegation met separately with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippine security officials.

Khurshid, who proceeded to Manila from meetings in Brazil, leaves for Singapore today.

The Philippines is currently finalizing the procurement of fighter jets from South Korea.

Not connected with territorial row

The defense department maintained yesterday that the acquisition of fighter jets from South Korea has nothing to do with the territorial row in the West Philippine Sea.

“This has been planned even before the developments in the West Philippine Sea,” defense department spokesman Peter Galvez said in a phone interview.

Galvez was asked for a reaction after a Japanese paper reported on Monday that China had asked South Korea not to sell FA-50 jets to the country.

Galvez declined to comment on the report itself but said the military’s upgrade efforts are not related to the territorial row with China.

The defense department previously said that the lead-in fighter jets acquisition project would boost the territorial defense capabilities of the country.

Officials, however, stressed that the modernization program is not directed toward any country. – With Alexis Romero

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MINISTER SALMAN KHURSHID FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERT GALVEZ KHURSHID LIKE THE PHILIPPINES LOOK EAST PETER GALVEZ SOUTH KOREA WEST PHILIPPINE SEA
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