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SAN DIEGO, California—US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday said America’s alliance with the Philippines remained “ironclad” even though the Asian ally’s leader had vowed to end joint military exercises.
The Pentagon chief’s remarks came as he headed for a security summit in Hawaii, where concerns about President Duterte, China’s continued military expansion in the South China Sea, and the return of Islamic State (IS) group jihadists to the region were high on the agenda.
READ: US-PH military alliance ‘ironclad,’ says Pentagon chief “As it has been for decades, our alliance with the Philippines is ironclad,” Carter said, addressing troops aboard the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, docked in San Diego, California. Duterte on Wednesday said he would soon end joint military exercises with the United States, a symbolic blow to a military alliance dating back more than 60 years.
“I will serve notice to you now, that this will be the last military exercise, jointly Philippines-US, the last one,” Duterte told several hundred Vietnam-based Filipinos during a rambling address in Hanoi as he started a trip to Vietnam.
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Since the Daily Mail released the photos a day earlier, showing four armed policemen forcing a woman lying on the beach to remove her tunic, the hashtag #WTFFrance became one of the top Twitter trends.
“I am denouncing what seems like a manipulation that undermines the local police, and puts the officers at risk,” said Estrosi.
Responding to the international outrage over photos of French armed police forcing Muslim women to remove their clothes on a Mediterranean beach, one French official threatened Wednesday to sue whoever dares to share such photos on social media.
“Photos showing police officers from the city of Nice, doing their job, are spreading on social media since this morning and have sparked defamatory language and threats against these officers,” said Nice’s right-wing Vice Mayor Christian Estrosi.