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The top American diplomat in Asia said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial remarks and a “real climate of uncertainty” about his government’s intentions have sparked distress in the U.S. and other countries. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel on Monday said that he also relayed to Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. international concern over continuing killings under Duterte’s crackdown against illegal drugs.
Russel said that while Washington welcomes the relaxation of tensions between Manila and Beijing under Duterte, the rapprochement should not come at the expense of the U.S., the Philippines’ treaty ally.
Russel’s visit to Manila comes amid increasing animosity between the allies as Duterte tries to scale back U.S. military engagement with his country and reaches out to China.