In time to come, the 20th edition of the Shangri-La Dialogue may be remembered as the venue for the emergence of a new security formation, with the Philippines joining forces with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue members.
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Last Saturday, the heads of defence of the United States, Japan and Australia sat down with representatives of the Philippines on the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue. Up for discussion were several issues, including interoperability of defence equipment and a reciprocal access agreement with Japan and the Philippines that will parallel the visiting forces agreement that Manila already has with Washington and Canberra.
Missing in the room was India, the fourth leg of the original Quad, the country from which the Philippines recently purchased three batteries of the shore-based version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. Indeed, Philippine Assistant Secretary for Strategic Assessment and International Affairs Pablo Lorenzo had just come back from New Delhi, where Manila’s military-diplomatic push to enter new defence arrangements was discussed.