Duterte ‘needs US troops’

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Syd­ney

– A top US com­man­der yes­ter­day warned end­ing a se­cu­rity pact with the Philip­pines would hurt counter-ter­ror­ism ef­forts in the coun­try’s restive south, putting him at odds with com­man­der-in-chief Don­ald Trump.

Wash­ing­ton’s top mil­i­tary of­fi­cer in Asia-Pa­cific, Ad­mi­ral Philip David­son, said he hoped Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte’s de­ci­sion to scrap a deal al­low­ing US forces to be based in the coun­try would be rethought.

Manila has given “180 day no­tice so we have some time for diplo­matic ef­forts”, David­son said at an event in Syd­ney. “I hope we can get to a suc­cess­ful out­come.”

Trump has said he would be “fine” with the end of the vis­it­ing forces agree­ment as it would save the United States “a lot of money”.

But David­son in­sisted the move would ham­per mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in Duterte’s home is­land of Min­danao, where sep­a­ratist and Is­lamist vi­o­lence has killed about 100 000 people.

“Our abil­ity to help the Philip­pines in their counter-vi­o­lent ex­trem­ist fight in the south, our abil­ity to train and op­er­ate within the Philip­pines and with Philip­pines armed forces would be chal­lenged with­out that vis­it­ing forces agree­ment,” he warned.

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