Duterte says he won't sever PH-US ties

Hours before he returned, Russian Ambassador Igor Khovaev said Moscow is ready to discuss "any area, any field of possible cooperation" in a bid to boost, adding that the two countries "deserve to know each other much, much better".

"It is not severance of ties", he said according to Reuters.

However, Duterte said in Davao City that his earlier statement did not mean cutting diplomatic ties with the United States. "I will tell you that we continue to be the Philippines' strongest economic partner", he said. "We're committed to this relationship; we're committed to an alliance between the two countries", he said.

"I, in this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States both in military - not in social - both in military but economic", the firebrand leader said, drawing applause from the crowd. "It's not clear to us exactly what that means in all its ramifications, so we're going to be seeking a clarification on that".

"We've never heard language and that kind of rhetoric from a friend and ally", noted Goldberg, who, along with President Barack Obama, has been the target of personal insults hurled by Duterte.

However, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday there had been "too many troubling public statements" by Duterte in recent months leading to uncertainty about his intent.

According to USA media reports, Duterte clarified his statements on Friday by saying that his country's foreign policy "need not dovetail" with that of the US.

Kirby said the top US diplomat for Asia, Daniel Russel, is traveling to Manila this weekend and would hold conversations with Filipino government officials.

Duterte has made many stands against the United States during his time in office, turning vulgar at times.

Obama administration officials have also expressed displeasure with Duterte's aggressive war on drugs, which has reportedly resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings.

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A day after he provoked fresh diplomatic alarm by announcing his "separation" from Washington, Duterte struck a more conciliatory tone as he arrived back in the Philippines after a four-day visit to Beijing.

"Because all your lawyers are all stupid and idiots", Duterte said.

Duterte made the announcement in a press conference following his arrival from his state visit to Brunei and China.

Duterte has vowed to end joint military exercises and naval patrols in the South China Sea and called for US forces to leave the southern island of Mindanao, where the Philippines is combating several terrorist and separatist groups.

The Philippine president, for his rapprochement, walked away from the meeting with $13.5 billion worth of trade deals with China.

State Department officials said the bilateral relationship remained strong. "We were very anxious about that", he said.

"The most important thing in the shared interest is about the South China Sea", he said.

As far as Duterte's China trip was concerned, Lopez said it served as a "symbol of renewing old friendship and brotherhood".

The US held the Philippines as a colony from 1898 until 1946.

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