Thursday, October 13, 2016

US Working to Retain Close Defense Ties to Philippines |

US Working to Retain Close Defense Ties to Philippines | The U.S. has confidence in maintaining strong defense ties with the Philippines despite threats to end joint military exercises by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and his cozying up to China, a top U.S. diplomat for the region said Wednesday.

"We're working through this. We've been through a lot worse" in the history of U.S.-Philippines relations, said Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"I think the operative adjective is 'colorful,' " Russel said in describing Duterte's recent outbursts in which he has charged that the Philippines has been shortchanged as the U.S. seeks to rebalance forces to the Pacific to counter the rise of China.

At an Asian summit last month, Duterte, the former populist mayor of Davao City, said the U.S. "can go to hell" and used a slur against President Barack Obama that loosely translated as "son of a whore."

Obama brushed off the insult, calling Duterte a "colorful guy."

Russel said he is working closely with Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, and Adm. Scott Swift, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, to ensure that military relations and coordination with the Philippines continue.