U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has described the U.S.-Philippines alliance as ironclad, one day after the Philippine president said joint military exercises with the U.S. would end.

“As it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad,” Carter said Thursday in a speech in San Diego, en route to a meeting in Hawaii with defense ministers from Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that joint exercises of Filipino and American troops next week would be the last, although his foreign secretary quickly said the decision was not final.

Duterte made the comments while addressing Filipino community members in Hanoi during a two-day visit to Vietnam. He noted that the Philippines will maintain its military alliance with the U.S. because they share a 65-year-old mutual defense treaty.

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