The U.S. says it will help build the Philippines' sea patrol capability but will not take sides in that nation's standoff with China at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.
The top diplomats and defense officials of the treaty allies held their first joint meeting Monday and discussed the three-week standoff at the Scarborough Shoal.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reaffirmed U.S. commitment to its mutual defense treaty with the Philippines, and to freedom of navigation and regional security. She reiterated support for a diplomatic resolution to territorial disputes.
A joint statement said they would cooperate on building the Philippines' maritime security capabilities. The U.S. will transfer a second ship to the poorly equipped Philippine navy this year.