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The Philippines and the U.S. are considering a new military pact similar to the Visiting Forces Agreement which President Rodrigo Duterte ordered terminated.
The U.S. Defense Department is “extremely concerned” with Duterte’s decision, and diplomats from both countries are now “finding ways and means to see how we can come up with something similar” to the VFA, the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez said in a forum in Manila.
“The door is not totally shut as far as we are concerned,” Romualdez said. “I am confident that our relationship with the United States will remain.”
The two nations are looking to model the new agreement on the Southeast Asian nation’s military deals with Australia and Japan, he added. A proposal on the VFA’s replacement may be ready in as early as two months, and will be recommended to the military and Duterte, the envoy said.
Both countries would like the U.S. special forces stationed in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao to stay in order to fight terrorism, Romualdez said.
The VFA has governed military cooperation between the Philippines and the U.S. since 1998 and is key to implementing a mutual defense treaty signed in 1951, shortly after the Philippines achieved independence from the U.S.
(Updates with more details from Philippine envoy in the 2nd paragraph.)
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