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US, Japan, Australia and Philippines to Hold 'Maritime Cooperative Activity'


The defence forces of the United States, Japan, Australia and the Philippines will conduct “maritime cooperative activity” to support a free and open Indo-Pacific, the Philippines' defence ministry said today.


Naval and air force activities will be conducted within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone on April 7, Manila's defence ministry said in a joint statement.


The activity will strengthen the interoperability of the countries' armed forces doctrines, tactics, techniques and procedures, the statement read.


The four nations reaffirm their position that the 2016 South China Sea Arbitral Tribunal Award is final and legally binding.


The maritime activity will happen days before a trilateral summit between the leaders of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines in Washington that will include a discussion of recent incidents in the South China Sea.


The Philippines and China had several maritime run-ins in March that included the use of water cannon and heated verbal exchanges, and have triggered concern about an escalation at sea.


China's embassy in Manila did not immediately respond to request for comment.


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