US aims to keep alliance commitments to Philippines: Defence secretary Carter

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter has said that Washington intended to keep its alliance commitments to the Philippines, despite Philippine President Duterte's "separation" comments.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter has said that Washington intended to keep its alliance commitments to the Philippines, despite Philippine President Duterte's "separation" comments. PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (REUTERS) - US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday (Oct 21) that Washington intended to keep its alliance commitments to the Philippines, even after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States.

Asked about Mr Duterte's declaration that he had realigned with China, Mr Carter said: "We have important alliance commitments which we intend to keep in the Philippines.

"Obviously any relationship is one of mutuality and we will continue to discuss that with our Philippine counterparts," he told reporters before landing in Turkey.

"That's not new today, but that's our alliance relationship with the Philippines."

In Beijing on Thursday, Mr Duterte declared his "separation" from the US, as he re-balanced his country's diplomacy towards China.

"I announce my separation from the United States," he said to applause at a meeting in the Chinese capital. "America does not control our lives," he added.

He also told his Chinese hosts that he had "realigned (himself) in your ideological flow".

"Maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia," he said. "It's the only way."

Mr Duterte's remarks will prompt fresh concern in the United States, where the Obama administration has seen Manila as an important ally in its "rebalance" of resources to Asia in the face of a rising China.

Mr Duterte's four-day trip to Beijing was seen as confirming his tilt away from Washington and towards Beijing's sphere of influence and its deep pockets.