Exclusive: The Philippines is working on a long-term process of "modernizing" the army and is in direct contact with Israel for defense procurement deals.
After four kingfisher ships arrived in Israel in recent years from Israel's shipyards, five more ships are expected to arrive soon, and an agreement has been signed to upgrade a shipyard in the country. In talks with his counterparts, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who arrived today for a visit to the country, also raised economic opportunities in East Asia as well as the growing Israeli presence in the region.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Philippine counterpart at the signing of the agreement,
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in interest in the security buildup in the Pacific region, partly due to the tension between the superpowers China and the United States in the region. In recent years, the Philippines has warned quite a bit about the entry of Chinese vessels into their territory, and on the other hand, China acts as a strong power in the region and is a major trading partner of the Philippines.
On another level in the Philippines, there is an American military presence, adding to the tension between the superpowers. Against this background, the Philippines' efforts to modernize the military by upgrading military capabilities, as well as procurement, meet Israel on the other side as an old friend but also as a renowned military official.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, Photo: AP
According to official figures, since 2016 there has been a steady increase in defense exports to the Philippines in Israel, including the purchase of Israeli defense equipment and, as mentioned, kingfisher ships and upgrading the local shipyard.
Israel sees the region as a relevant market for defense exports and is working in this direction not only economically, but also politically-diplomatically in order to create a presence in the region.
Philippine Foreign Minister at the signing ceremony, photo: AP
Today, as stated, the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister to Manila in 56 years was held in order to strengthen strategic ties in East Asia, promote transportation links between Asia, through the Middle East, and Europe, and of course expand diplomatic ties in East Asia.
Foreign Minister Cohen said during his visit to the country that "strengthening ties in East Asia, and shortening flight time thanks to the authorization to fly over Oman, will open doors for Israel in other countries in the region and will bring Israel groundbreaking economic and political opportunities."
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