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Philippines President Duterte suspends his move to scrap US troop deal

Philippines President Duterte suspends his move to scrap US troop deal

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has suspended his decision to scrap a two-decades-old troop deployment agreement with the United States. His foreign minister on Tuesday explained the U-turn citing political and other developments in the region.

The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which is central to one of Washington’s most important alliances in Asia, was due to take effect in August. It was also Duterte’s biggest move yet towards delivering on longstanding threats to downgrade ties with the Philippines’ former colonial ruler, Reuters said.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the news, that the Philippines was no longer abandoning the pact, had been well received by the US. The VFA provides the legal framework within which US troops can operate on a rotational basis in the Philippines.

Duterte scrapped the VFA on February 11 in response to the revocation of a US visa held by a former police chief-turned-senator who'd led his war on drugs.