The U.S. and the Philippines have co-created a defense cooperation agreement that will enable the return of American forces to the Southeast Asian nation, according the Los Angeles Times. The pact involves a 10-year deal that allows U.S. troops to access military facilities in the Philippines on a rotational basis.

In 1992, the Philippines evicted American forces from the country, forcing the U.S. to leave Subic Bay, its largest overseas naval base, The Wall Street Journal noted. The new agreement indicates improved relations between the two nations.

"It shows how far we've come in building out a very mature partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to Obama, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

Although the agreement is being signed amid continuing territorial disputes with China, officials have stated that the pact is not intended as a response to China. Nonetheless, Rhodes said the agreement will help to foster stability in the South China Sea, where China is competing with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia for control.

The buildup of American troops in the Philippines is likely to be a gradual process. U.S. officials have stated that it could be months or even years before there is a large American military presence there.