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Philippines’ Duterte U-turns on scrapping of US troop deal

MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has suspended his decision to scrap a two-decade-old troop deployment agreement with the United States due to political and other developments in the region, his foreign minister said on Tuesday.

The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which is central to one of Washington’s most important alliances in Asia, was due to take effect in August and was Duterte’s biggest move yet towards delivering on longstanding threats to downgrade ties with the Philippines’ former colonial ruler.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the news that the Philippines was no longer abandoning the pact was well received by the United States.

The mercurial Duterte, known for his stinging rebukes of Western powers, has clashed with Washington over numerous issues and has been open about his disdain for his country’s most important diplomatic ally and main provider of military hardware and training.

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