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ASIA >Philippines’ Duterte vows to end joint US military drills

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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said Sept. 28 that he will soon end joint military exercises with the United States, a move that could further dampen relations with Manila’s longtime ally after the controversial leader branded U.S. President Barack Obama a “son of a whore.”
Speaking to a crowd at an upscale Hanoi hotel where he kicked off his two-day visit to Vietnam, the foul-mouthed leader said next month’s military drills would be the last. 

“I will serve notice to you now, that this will be the last military exercise, jointly Philippines-U.S., the last one,” he said in a rambling speech to several hundred Vietnam-based Filipinos.

The Philippine-U.S. Amphibious Landing Exercises (Phiblex) are set to take place from Oct. 4 to 12 in the Philippines, which follow the larger annual Balikatan exercises in April involving more than 8,000 forces from both sides.

The allies have quarreled in recent weeks, with Duterte vowing to eject U.S. special forces from the country’s troubled south, just days after he insulted Obama at a regional leaders summit in Laos.

Duterte’s remarks come a few days after he said that he would visit Russia and China this year to chart an independent foreign policy and “open alliances” with two powers with historic rivalries with the United States. 

Duterte said Sept. 26 the Philippines was at the “point of no return” in relations with former colonial ruler the U.S., so he wanted to strengthen ties with others, and picked two global powers that have been sparring with Washington on the international political stage.

September/29/2016

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