Friday, 20 October, 2017

Tillerson and Bishop call on Duterte in Malacañang

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson gives an opening statement during the Asean-US Ministerial meeting at the sideline of the Association of South East Asian Nations Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings in Manila Philippines. EPA US provides drones to help Philippines fight pro-IS militants
Christy Curtis | 09 August, 2017, 00:57

Addressing the apparent insubordination of his own military, he remarked that "our soldiers are pro-American, that I can not deny".

During the meeting, the two foreign ministers also discussed trade and investment, education and research and other areas of cooperation that the Philippines and Russian Federation could explore. Despite Obama denying that he would meet with Duterte during a regional conference in 2016, the two exchanged greetings. Massachusetts Congressman James McGovern who told a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission that he would protest against such a visit.

However, Tillerson said that there was "no big contradiction" in providing assistance to the Philippines in spite of human rights concerns.

"I know you're anxious there, because you also have domestic problems...."

The former senator said Lavrov wanted to convey to President Rodrigo Duterte Moscow's "solidarity with his efforts to eliminate any extremist threat to your country and our appreciation for your solidarity with Russia's fight against terrorism".

Last week, before Mr Tillerson travelled to Manila to attend meetings with fellow foreign ministers at a regional diplomatic and security forum, United States officials said he would raise the issue of the drug war.

Instead, the two focused on the alliance between the two countries and on the North Korea issue as reporters were allowed in briefly for the start of their meeting. Duterte began shifting his focus to Beijing and Moscow, explaining that "there are three of us against the world - China, the Philippines, and Russian Federation".

But Tillerson argued Monday there's no contradiction presented by the USA decision to help his country fight the militants, whose insurgency in the Philippines has stoked global fears about the Islamic State group exporting violence into Southeast Asia and beyond.

Around 700 people have been killed since fighting in the city began. 'We have always included this issue in our discussions and engagements with foreign governments, particularly Western democracies'.

The US department of state referred the Guardian to Tillerson's remarks before the meeting in which he told journalists that the US had "human rights concerns ... with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities".

Tillerson said the US has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight the militants. At the end of July, the Pentagon announced the transfer of two Cessna aircraft to the Filipino military for surveillance and reconnaissance, and Tillerson revealed Monday that "a couple of UAVs", or drones, were part of that deal as well.

Speaking on the occasion of the 50th founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Duterte said the 10-member regional bloc must "take a serious look at the economic integration".

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