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Japan could deliver two coast guard ships to the Philippines

Japan could deliver two coast guard ships to the PhilippinesJapan would give the Philippines two large coast guard ships to boost Manila's capacity to patrol its waters, with the allies facing Chinese aggression in separate maritime disputes, a Japanese foreign ministry official said on Friday.

Japan and the Philippines talks over two vessels to help patrol the disputed South China Sea came as part of a deal on defense equipment.

The two brand-new 90-metre (295-ft) multi-role response vessels will be in addition to ten 44-metre (144-ft) mid-sized coast guard ships, worth 8.8 billion pesos ($188.52 million) that Japan is set to start delivering next week.

"Both governments are looking into the possibility of getting two more vessels, this time the bigger ones," Masato Ohtaka, deputy spokesman of Japan's foreign ministry, told journalists in Manila.

"We're in the middle of dialogue between the two sides, they are still discussing details and we need a little more time," he added.

The ship agreement came after an 80-minute meeting between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday in southern Davao City. Countries also discussed the lease of surveillance aircraft and Japan's $2.4 billion loan for a new railway in Manila.

"We talked about how Japan can help the Philippines in capacity building, particularly with regards to maritime security," Ohtaka said.

Previously Duterte said Thursday night he told Kishida about his "soft landing" approach to dealing with China following the tribunal's decision.

"(I don't want) to start hostilities at this time of our lives and he said Japan would do the same. They just want dialogue. They do not want further incursions," Duterte said.

China and the Philippines have disputes in the South China Sea, while Japan is in dispute with China over small islands in the East China Sea.
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