ANKARA - U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday that Washington intended to keep its alliance commitments to the Philippines, even after President Rodrigo 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."
The United States government will seek an explanation from the Philippines for Duterte's announcement of a "separation" from Washington, the State Department said on Thursday, calling the remarks baffling and at odds with the two countries' close relationship.
Duterte said during a visit to China on Thursday that "America has lost" in military and economic ties with the Philippines and "I announce my separation from the United States."
"We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the U.S.," said State Department spokesman John Kirby. "It's not clear to us exactly what that means in all its ramifications."