John Kerry says confident about US-Philippines ties despite differences

Washington: US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday expressed confidence about the future of the US-Philippines relationship, which has soured following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirades against the US.

“I am confident about the future of our bilateral relationship, notwithstanding a difference here or there about one thing or another,” Xinhua news agency quoted Kerry as saying at the State Department as he swore in Sung Kim as the new US ambassador to the Philippines.

“The United States continues to place a high value on the close ties that exist between our countries,” Kerry said. “We continue to recognise our ironclad commitment to the sovereignty, independence, and security of the Philippines.”

Kerry also expressed the hope to visit the Southeast Asian country before the end of his term as Secretary of State.

In recent months, Duterte repeatedly lashed out at the US, throwing the alliance between the two countries into disarray, after Washington raised concern on the reported extrajudicial killings of drug suspects amid Manila’s war on illegal drugs.

The Philippine President also threatened to “break up” with Washington. He hit out at the United States, the European Union and the United Nations for using human rights to criticise his campaign to curb the illicit drug menace in the Philippines.

“I will be re-configuring my foreign policy,” Duterte said in a speech before the Jewish Association of the Philippines in Makati City on October 4.

“Eventually I might in my time break up with America. I would rather go to Russia and to China,” said Duterte.