The Philippine government wants US forces to have a rotational presence in the country, but only for a period less than 20 years, a senior official said.

Foreign Affairs Asec. Carlos Sorreta, member of the panel negotiating for an “increased rotational presence” of American troops, made the remark as the second round of talks on the issue ended in Washington D.C. on Friday (Philippine time).

“For the Americans, they typically have agreements like these that have a duration of 20 years. Right now, the Philippine delegation is looking at a much shorter duration,” Sorreta said in a statement released by the defense and foreign affairs departments Saturday.

The “substantive” issue of duration is among “a number” of provisions in the proposed framework agreement for the increased rotational presence that are still up for further discussion, he said.

Defense Usec. Pio Lorenzo Batino, head of the Philippine negotiating team, said for his part that both sides understood that US troops will not establish a “permanent presence.”

“That was clear during the discussion,” he said.

Sorreta, meanwhile, said the two teams of negotiators had “specific understandings” on some issues concerning the prepositioning of US troops and equipment in the country.

Among those are Philippine ownership of facilities used for prepositioning and authority in matters of security, as well as removal of any construction by the US after an “approved activity.”

The two sides also had understandings on a stronger language on non-prepositioning of prohibited weapons and that any prepositioning or activities should not violate Philippine environmental laws, Sorreta said.

During the second-round talks, both sides agreed that joint exercises and activities will require the approval of the Philippines and will be mutually beneficial to the individual and collective defense capabilities of the two countries, Batino said.

The next round of talks will be held in the second week of September in the US. (John Roson)

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