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Philippines' Duterte wants foreign troops out in 'maybe two years'

By Andrew V. Pestano
Philippines' Duterte wants foreign troops out in 'maybe two years'
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, seen here alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on Wednesday said he wants all foreign troops out of his country within two years, adding that he could repeal base-hosting agreements with the United States, during a three-day visit to Japan. Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Duterte

TOKYO, Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he wants all foreign troops out of his country within two years, adding that he could repeal base-hosting agreements with the United States.

During a three-day trip to Japan, Duterte said that he wants foreign troops out of the Philippines within "maybe two years" and reiterated his position that he would withdraw from joint military exercises with the United States, The New York Times reports.

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"This will be the last maneuver, war games, between the United States and the Philippine military," Duterte said, adding that he would "revise or abrogate agreements" -- in reference to the 2014 agreement in which the U.S. Department of Defense would use five Philippine military bases.

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In the fight against militant Islamist groups, specifically the Islamic State-ally Abu Sayyaf, U.S. Special Forces have assisted troops in the Philippines -- particularly in the Mindanao region -- through training and information-sharing, as the Philippine Constitution prohibits foreign troops from taking part in direct combat operations.

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In late September, Duterte suggested he also wants U.S. Special Forces to vacate Mindanao -- citing the danger they are in.

Duterte met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday. The leaders said they were committed to the rule of law and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which is a contested region due to territorial claims made by China, The Japan News reports.

"I hope to make Japan-Philippine relations even more solid and develop them significantly," Abe said during a meeting with Duterte.

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