The United States will contribute more than a quarter of a billion dollars to its allies in Southeast Asia to enhance regional maritime security, the White House said in a press release on Tuesday.

“Committing $119 million in FY [fiscal year] 2015 to develop Southeast Asian maritime capabilities and will seek to provide $140 million in assistance during FY [fiscal year] 2016 subject to appropriation, totaling more than $250 million over two years,” the release said.

The United States, the release added, is seeking to enhance the maritime security capacity of partners to respond to threats off the coasts and in the region.

The White House announcement comes amid increasing tensions between the United States and China over US naval patrols in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama arrived in the Philippines to take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting scheduled for November 18-19.

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