Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he wanted U.S. troops out of his country, perhaps in the next two years, underlining his intention to press ahead with a major realignment of his country’s foreign and security policies.
It is not the first time Duterte has made this kind of threat, but his two-year timetable for a U.S. military exit appeared designed to reinforce his break-the-mold message to Washington and neighbors in Asia, particularly powerhouse China.
So far, however, his administration has failed to follow through on previous pledges to remove a small contingent of U.S. counterterrorism troops from the southern island of Mindanao or to notify Washington of an end to military exercises.
The United States “has received no formal communication from the government of the Philippines expressing a desire to make specific changes to our relationship or alliance,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday at a news briefing in Washington. “The United States remains committed to our pursuit of shared objectives” in keeping with the “seven-decade alliance between our two countries,” he said.