VOA NEWS: US, Philippines Launch Military Drills

The U.S. and Philippine militaries have launched a large, 10-day, annual military exercise amid increasing tensions in the disputed South China Sea.

Officials said at the opening ceremony Monday that this year's drills, known as "Balikiton," will focus on maritime security.

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario said tensions in the region had increased in recent years because of expansive maritime and territorial disputes.

He did not mention China, but Beijing has been increasingly aggressive about asserting territorial claims on disputed islands in the East China Sea.

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