US-Philippines relationship is 'ironclad'
ABOARD THE USS CARL VINSON — Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said Thursday that the United States will continue to invest in five military bases in the Philippines as the relationship between the two countries remains “ironclad.”
But Carter’s remarks, made as part of a speech to sailors onboard the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, come as new Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to distance his government from U.S. Influence, most recently by announcing the Philippines would cancel all future military exercises with the United States. Duterte also has demanded the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.
Later Thursday, Carter will meet with Delfin Lorenzana, the Philippines defense secretary, in Hawaii as part of a regular meeting between the United States and 10 Southeast Asian defense ministers known as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.
The speech onboard the Vinson on Thursday was described by a senior defense official as a preview to the ASEAN meeting, to set the stage for continuing discussions the ministers have on regional security.
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