The US praised military ties in the Philippines as the Duterte court of Russia, China,
CLARK, Philippines (Reuters) – It is time for US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s trip to the Philippines this week could not have been better.
But when Mattis met President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, five Russian warships were parked from the Philippines and Moscow was preparing to officially hand over thousands of assault rifles, a million ammunition and 20 troop trucks at a public ceremony on Wednesday.
Duterte made no secret of his plans to foster relations with American, Russian and Chinese rivals. Those efforts seem to be paying off.
Just before he met Mattis, Duterte sat with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Tuesday, who, like Mattis, attended a meeting of Asian defense ministers in northern Manila. Shoigu signed two military agreements, including the procurement of unspecified equipment.
On Wednesday, Duterte is scheduled to visit Russia’s anti-submarine ship Admiral Pantaleyev, anchored in Manila.
The US ambassador, Sung Kim, downplayed US concerns about Duterte’s outreach to China and Russia and noted that the United States, a former colonial power, was the only state treaty, with a much deeper relationship in the Philippines.
“I am not really threatened by the idea that China or Russia is providing some military equipment to the Philippines,” Kim told a small group of journalists traveling with Mattis.
“We have provided very important equipment for the Philippines for many years. The fact that the Chinese and Russians have provided some rifles, I’m not sure that’s really a problem for the United States. ”
However, Duterte’s rhetoric was inconsistent, and he warmly welcomed the visit of Foreign Minister Rex Tillerson in August, calling himself a “humble friend” of the United States at the time.
On Tuesday, he carefully kept the script dialogue at the beginning of his meeting with Mattis, as he greeted him to the Philippines and spoke warmly about the relationship.
“I want to be (as) politically correct as possible and I want to be understood. So reading this speech would be good, “he said before reporters were escorted out of the room.
Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to the Philippines, US envoys cited “tone and substance” improvements in bilateral relations for 10 months since he was at his post.
“President Duterte has reiterated that although he is pursuing increased ties with countries like China and Russia, he will continue to focus on ensuring that the US-Filipino alliance remains strong,” Kim said.
Source: reuters / article / us-asia-mattis-filipino / u-s-touts-military-tie-in-filipino-as-duterte-court-russia-china-idUSKBN1CT0TH
Video credits to update defense YouTube channel