World Bulletin / News Desk
After a closed-door meeting with Yasay in Manila on Monday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel R. Russel told reporters that he had mentioned the confusion experienced by other countries as a result of a series of statements made by Duterte over past months.
During a visit to Beijing last week, Duterte announced “separation from the United States, both in military, not social… and economic” and expressed his intention to “realign” with China and Russia.
The comments in Beijing were a culmination of a succession of outbursts Duterte has made against America -- the Philippines’ long-time ally -- since taking office in June, along with talk of forging links with Beijing and Moscow, bringing uncertainty to the U.S. relationship.
After the comments, members of his cabinet attempted to underline that Duterte was suggesting less dependence while the president insisted that “separation of foreign policy” does not mean the severing of ties.
On Monday, Russel said, “I pointed out to Secretary Yasay that the succession of controversial statements and comments, and the climate of uncertainty about the Philippines’ intentions, have created consternation in a number of countries, not only in mine".
The Rappler news website also quoted him as warning that such matters are “not a positive trend" after the meeting, which had been scheduled prior to Duterte’s comments in China.
Duterte has repeatedly lashed out at the U.S., European Union and United Nations over criticism of his war on drugs -- which has left more than 4,440 people dead in police operations and “vigilante-style killings” since July 1, Rappler reported citing data from the national police.
"Your friends are also concerned about the loss of life in connection with the counternarcotics campaign," Russel said Monday.
He also expressed support for the crackdown but stressed the importance of due process, the Manila Bulletin reported, while also underlining that Washington welcomes the relaxation of Manila-Beijing relations.
For almost 70 years, the Philippines and the U.S. have been close allies in everything from trade to defense agreements, which allowed Washington to rotate aircraft, ships, and personnel through five Philippines bases.