Philippine President Benigno Aquino says he wants to start talks toward signing a pact allowing Japanese troops to visit his country and join a wide range of operations, signaling a possible expanded Japanese troop presence in the South China Sea.

Aquino said Friday that a visiting-forces agreement would allow for refueling and other needs for Japanese troops while in the Philippines. Manila has similar deals with the U.S. and Australia.

Japan and the Philippines agreed Thursday to launch talks to sell Japanese military hardware to the Philippines and to bolster exercises and operations between their militaries.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to expand Japan's military role abroad and increase partnerships with other countries.