Philippines’ Duterte Says He Didn’t Really Mean ‘Separation’ From U.S.

Neil Jerome Morales reports for Reuters:

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he was not severing ties with his country’s long-time ally the United States, but merely pursuing a more independent foreign policy by strengthening relations with China.

A day after he provoked fresh diplomatic alarm by announcing his “separation” from Washington, Duterte struck a more conciliatory tone as he arrived back in the Philippines after a four-day visit to Beijing.

“It is not severance of ties. When you say severance of ties, you cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that,” the Philippine leader told reporters at a midnight news conference in his southern home city of Davao.

“It’s in the best interest of my countrymen to maintain that relationship.”

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