Rodrigo Duterte Philippines' President softens stance toward US before Japan visit

"The alliances are alive," Duterte told Japanese media in Manila on Monday, Kyodo News reported. "

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday he would not sever his nation's alliance with the United States, clarifying his announcement that he plans to "separate" play

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday he would not sever his nation's alliance with the United States, clarifying his announcement that he plans to "separate"

(AFP)
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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte softened his remarks about a "separation" from long-time ally the United States on the eve of a visit to Japan, a country worried about Manila's apparent pivot away from Washington and towards China.

"The alliances are alive," Duterte told Japanese media in Manila on Monday, Kyodo News reported. "

There should be no worry about changes of alliances. I do not need to have alliances with other nations."

The remarks will be welcomed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who wants to keep ties with the Philippines tight during Duterte's visit to Japan, starting on Tuesday.

Duterte jolted the region last week on a trip to China when he announced a realignment toward Beijing, the latest in a series of outbursts against the United States.

Duterte and his aides later tried to clarify that he did not mean he was cutting ties with the United States and his remarks on Monday were the most conciliatory yet.

Duterte told Japanese media he had been expressing a personal opinion, not speaking for the government when he mentioned separating from Washington, the Nikkei newspaper said. He said he only plans to have an "alliance of trade and commerce" with China, Kyodo reported.

The Yomiuri newspaper, however, said Duterte had repeated he wants to halt joint military exercises with the United States and end a military cooperation pact seen as crucial to projecting U.S. power in Asia in the face of a fast-rising China.

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