Pentagon chief calls VFA termination ‘unfortunate’

first_imgU.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper calledthis decision “unfortunate,” saying it would be a move in the wrong directionat a time when Washington and its allies were trying to press China to abide by“international rules of order” in Asia. The decision, sparked by the revocationof a U.S. visa held by a former police chief who led Duterte’s bloody war ondrugs, could complicate U.S. military interests in the Asia-Pacific region asChina’s ambitions rise. Given the importance of the alliancewith the Philippines in broader U.S. strategy, Washington hopes the decisionwill be reversed or delayed before it takes legal effect in 180 days. (Reuters) MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterteannounced on Tuesday the termination of a two-decade-old Visiting ForcesAgreement with the United States (VFA), delivering on threats to downgrade analliance important to U.S. interests. “The president will not entertain anyinitiative coming from the U.S. government to salvage the VFA, neither will heaccept any official invitation to visit the United States,” Panelo said. Panelo said Duterte’s decision was aconsequence of U.S. legislative and executive actions that “bordered onassaulting our sovereignty and disrespecting our judicial system”. U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper. AP It would also limit Philippine access toU.S. training and expertise in tackling Islamist extremism, natural disastersand maritime security threats. The mercurial Duterte, who has clashedwith the US over several issues, decided to pull the plug on the troop rotationpact with the former colonial ruler to enable the Philippines to be moreindependent in its relations with other countries, his spokesman SalvadorPanelo said.last_img

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