US, Philippines launch joint counter-terrorism drills

US and Philippine troops launched new joint counter-terrorism exercises on Monday. President Rodrigo Duterte vowed last week to be “friendly” with the US, in contrast to comments he made a year ago calling joint military exercises a “humiliation,” AFP reports. At that time, he also had threatened to sever defense ties forged after World War II. The week-long joint operation involves live-fire training, rescues in combat situations, and mass-casualty situations aboard ships. The US embassy said Monday the drills “will increase overall US and Philippine readiness, improve bilateral responsiveness to crises in the region, and further reinforce our illustrious decades-long alliance.”