US, Philippines boost alliance amid row with China

By the Associated Press | November 15, 2011 | 8:05 PM EST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton holding her umbrella receives a bouquet of flowers upon arrival in Manila, Philippines, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Pat Roque)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Officials say the United States is helping the Philippines reinforce its weak navy as its longtime Asian ally wrangles with China in increasingly tense territorial disputes.

The long-simmering disputes over potentially oil-rich South China Sea islands are expected to top U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's agenda in meetings Wednesday with President Benigno Aquino III and other top officials in Manila.

Recent U.S. help to the Philippines has focused on battling al-Qaida-linked militants. A senior U.S. official traveling with Clinton says America's assistance will increasingly turn toward bolstering the Philippines' naval power.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, says the U.S. recently provided the Philippines with a destroyer and a second one will be delivered soon.