US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says his country intends to keep its alliance commitments to the Philippines, despite remarks by the Southeast Asian country’s president regarding a shift from the Washington policies.
Carter made the comments on Friday, a day after Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte announced Manila’s “separation” from Washington, a former long-standing ally, and its realignment with Beijing.
"We have important alliance commitments which we intend to keep in the Philippines,” Carter said, adding that, "Obviously any relationship is one of mutuality and we will continue to discuss that with our Philippine counterparts."
On Thursday, Duterte also stressed his country’s pursuit of a shift away from the Unites States and toward China, blasting America's policies and declaring an end to joint military exercises with the US military.
“So it’s about time to say good-bye, my friend. Your stay in my country was for your own benefit,” said the Filipino president, who has also called for the removal of US troops from a group of southern islands in the Philippines.
“No more American interference. No more American exercises,” he added.
The troops have been deployed to Mindanao Island since 2002, in a program initially devised to train and advise Philippine military units fighting local militants.
Duterte, who took office in June, has had a tense relationship with the US. He condemned Washington’s criticism of his deadly crackdown against illegal drugs, which has left more than 3,600 suspects dead in just three months. He earlier vowed to kill “three million drug addicts” in his country.
The US had long considered its relations with the Philippines as one of its most stable in Southeast Asia.
The Filipino president has previously used a series of obscenities to describe US President Barack Obama and other world officials.