Saturday, October 22, 2016

US not to sue Philippines ‘for divorce’. Gulf today

US not to sue Philippines ‘for divorce’
By Manolo B. Jara / AgenciesOctober 22, 2016
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MANILA: The top American diplomat in the country on Friday said the US was not suing the Philippines “for divorce” as he sought a clarification on the statement of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte that he was “separating” from the US.

Philip Goldberg, the US ambassador to the Philippines, pointed out that Washington was determined to pursue its strong economic, defence and related ties with Manila despite the Duterte pronouncement in a speech during his four-day state visit to China that ended on Friday.

“I don’t know what separation means because we are inextricably linked,” Goldberg told GMA News in an interview, referring to the close ties that the US has with its former colony in Asia.

Goldberg also said the US was not suing the Philippines “for divorce” in answer to a comment from journalist Arnold Clavio of GMA News that the two countries were apparently having an LQ or “lovers’ quarrel.”

In Malacanang Palace, Ana Marie Banaag, the assistant communications secretary, told a media briefing there was “no need” to interpret Duterte’s pronouncement that he was cutting off ties with the US.

“We still have to wait for the guidelines. There is no need to interpret the statement of President Duterte,” Banaag pointed out.

“We would not like to interpret the pronouncement,” Banaag added, “so that once it is on paper, it’s clear that the president is wanting us to have with regards foreign relations with the US.”

On Thursday, Duterte told businessmen during the Philippines-China Trade and Investment Forum: “In this venue, I announce my separation from the United States both in the military...not social but economic also.”

“I have separated from them so I will be dependent on you for a long time, but don’t worry, we will also help,” Duterte said.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday that Washington intended to keep its alliance commitments to the Philippines, even after Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States.

Asked about Duterte’s declaration that he had realigned with China, 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.”

Beijing and Manila will resume talks on their South China Sea disputes, both sides said on Friday, an apparent diplomatic victory for China after an international tribunal dismissed its claims to the waters.

The announcement came during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China where he sought economic support from the Asian giant and announced his “separation” from longtime ally the US.

“A bilateral consultation mechanism can be useful, which will meet regularly on current and other issues of concern to either side on the South China Sea,” the countries said in a joint statement.

The move to hold talks, suspended several years ago, will please Beijing, which has a longstanding policy of insisting territorial disputes be discussed directly between the parties, in an environment where analysts say it has more clout due to its economic size, rather than in multilateral forums.

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