19:10 GMT +315 December 2017
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    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (C) waves next to Indonesian President Joko Widodo (lower R) during a visit to Tanah Abang market in Jakarta

    Duterte Says US Forces Must Be Prepared to Leave Following Economic Aid Halt

    © AFP 2017/ BAY ISMOYO
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    The US forces must be prepared to leave Philippines as their presence in the country is not needed, President Rodrigo Duterte said. The statement comes in the wake of the US announcement to halt economic aid to Manila protesting Duterte's anti-drug policy.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The US military forces must be prepared to leave Philippines as their presence in the country is not needed, President Rodrigo Duterte said following the US announcement to halt economic aid to Manila protesting Duterte's anti-drug policy, which reportedly resulted in deaths of over 2,000 people at the hands of the police.

    "Prepare to leave the Philippines. Prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement… "We [the Philippines] will never be ready to fight with China. It is you [the US] who is egging a fight there. We will never fight with Russia — that's too far away. And besides, we are friends [with Russia]," Duterte said as quoted by CNN Philippines.

    He added that the country can survive without the US money.

    In October, Duterte said his country could build a defense and economic alliance with Russia and China.

    Since 2002, the US military has been deployed on the southern Jolo and Basilan islands to fight Abu Sayyaf, an al-Qaeda-backed terrorist organization that emerged in the early 1990s. It consists of loosely affiliated gangs that often kidnap foreigners to collect ransom. In 2015 only a small special force unit providing training remained.

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    Tags:
    drug policy, US Military, Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines, United States
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