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June 27, 2017

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Philippine & US warships in exercise off China coast

MANILA--Philippine and U.S. warships are set to kick off joint drills near disputed South China Sea waters next week, a Filipino military spokesman said Friday, amid escalating territorial rows between Beijing and its neighbors.

The drills will be held off the west coast of the Philippines' main island of Luzon, said Lieutenant Rommel Rodriguez, spokesman for Filipino side of the operations.

China claims most of the South China Sea — including waters approaching its neighbors' coastlines — and has been increasingly assertive in staking these claims.

But Rodriguez said the CARAT (Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training) joint exercises, involving nearly 1,000 troops from both countries, were a regular annual event and he dismissed any connection to rising tensions in the region.

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