A new security pact between the United States and the Philippines to be signed as President Barack Obama arrives in the southeast Asian nation on Monday is aimed at establishing greater stability in the region, not as a counter to Chinese assertiveness, U.S. officials said on Sunday.
The accord allows for enhanced "rotational presence" of U.S. forces in the country -- but not a return of U.S. military bases. It will allow U.S. forces to train and conduct exercises with Philippine forces for maritime security, disaster assistance and humanitarian aid, White House officials told reporters at a briefing.
Officials accompanying Obama on a visit to Malaysia cited disaster response after last year's Typhoon Yolanda as the kind of cooperation the pact would facilitate.
"We're not doing this because of China," Evan Medeiros, Obama's top Asia advisor, said when asked if the pact is meant as deterrent to China.
(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal and Matt Spetalnick)