Philippines extends military pact with US

Manila (AFP) –


The Philippines will extend a key military pact with the United States for another six months, the foreign minister said Wednesday.

President Rodrigo Duterte had given notice to Washington in February that he planned to axe the Visiting Forces Agreement after accusing the US of interference in his internationally condemned narcotics crackdown.

The plan to break the deal -- central to hundreds of joint military exercises with the US every year and a major component of their nearly 70-year-old alliance -- was suspended in June.

The latest decision -- announced by Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin -- came after Duterte congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden and said he was looking forward to "working closely" with the new administration.

In a statement addressed to US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien, Locsin said the decision would "enable us to find a more enhanced, mutually beneficial... and lasting arrangement."

Duterte has repeatedly threatened to break from long-standing security ties with the US, its former colonial master, in favour of closer links with China.