MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed "great appreciation" for the United States' support for Philippine forces who battled Islamic State-inspired extremists in Marawi, the US ambassador to Manila said Monday.
Ambassador Sung Kim, who has met with Duterte at least 6 times since last year, said the President had conveyed this every time they met and even during his meetings with President Donald Trump and other top US officials.
"I focus on what he tells us directly and less on public comments," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Sometimes, rhetoric can be painful, but what is important is what is happening on the ground in terms of our cooperation with AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and in terms of what the President tells us directly," he said.
Kim said the cooperation between Manila and Washington during the 5-month siege was "very important," and they are proud to have provided intelligence support, technical advice, and equipment grants to their ally.
The United States, the Philippines' strongest defense ally, delivered critical military equipment to the Philippines, including the handover of 2 surveillance planes and counter-terror weapons in July.
Washington has allocated about $14.3 million for the rehabilitation of the war-torn city, which will be used to implement immediate, medium-term, and long-term programs, said Kim.
The US and the Philippines are bound by the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty and two other agreements that allow US troops to have rotating presence in the country.