Philipines' Duterte wants U.S. troops out in two years


The presence of us troops in five Philippine military camps was established under a security deal signed under Duterte's predecessor as a counterbalance to China's growing military assertiveness in the region.

US Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs Danny Russel visited Manila last weekend to meet with Filipino officials, including the foreign and defense ministers, in an attempt to gain clarity on Duterte's Beijing comments, after they caused "consternation" in the United States.

Washington is critical of Duterte's bloody war on drugs. "With regards to TPP, that's being reviewed all over, including in the United States, so maybe we'll put that on the back burner", he said.

Duterte's comments, backed by repeated praise for China, have thrown into doubt the Philippines' 70-year alliance with the United States.

Tokyo is also helping the Philippines with economic assistance, if not on the scale of China, where Duterte visited last week and raked in a massive economic assistance.

He further explained that the decision of the Philippines to make a deal with China will have the short-term effect of easing tensions in the South China Sea.

In Tokyo, Duterte and Abe later stressed in a joint media appearance their countries' common values as democracies that respect the rule of law.

Duterte who is in a state visit to Japan insisted that he doesn't need arms from the us, only "friendship with everybody".

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

"I want to be friends to China", he told an audience of businesspeople in Tokyo.

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"I have no doubt that that would continue as a threat to us, they (China) continue to grab whatever they can grab if we show any sign of weakness", he said.

"I do not want to see any military man of any other nation except the Filipino", Duterte insisted, saying if he was in power for a long enough time, the United States could forget about its bilateral agreement to host troops within the Philippines.

As for the West Philippine Sea disputes, the two leaders acknowledged the importance of a "rules-based approach" to the peaceful settlement of territorial row.

Duterte is on his three-day official visit to Japan.

"You know, I went to China for a visit, and I would like to assure you that all there was, was economics".

"I think that Duterte's remarks in Japan should mostly be in accordance with what he said in China, that is, to enhance cooperation and set aside disputes", Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news conference on Wednesday.

A government official said this statement also applies to the Philippine-U.S. alliance, and said that Duterte reassured Japan that he is not cutting off diplomatic ties with the U.S.

The details of that agreement, signed March 18 under Duterte's predecessor, Benigno Aquino III, cleared the way for a permanent American military presence across the five bases to support rotational deployments near the contested South China Sea.

At the Philippine Economic Forum organized by the Japan External Trade Organization, Philippine Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez invited Japanese investments in information technology and business processing, small and medium-sized enterprises.