During Carter's meeting with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin, the two leaders reaffirmed the strong and enduring ties between the two nations, the release said.
Carter welcomed the opportunity to discuss regional security issues with one of America’s closest allies in the Asia-Pacific, the release said, and stressed that the U.S. commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad.
Mutual Defense Treaty
The U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty has bound the two countries for more than 60 years, according to the release.
President Barack Obama said in Manila last year that the agreement pledges the two nations' "Common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone," the release said.
In Hawaii, Carter and Gazmin agreed that all parties involved in the South China Sea should seek a peaceful resolution of disputes, immediately halt land reclamation, and stop further militarization of disputed features, according to the release.
The two leaders also agreed to hold, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a 2-plus-2 meeting as soon as possible, the release said.
The 2-plus-2 will meet at the assistant secretary-level to consult on regional security issues of mutual interest, including the South China Sea, according to the release.
The United States of America Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington's pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains "ironclad" and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said.