Manila, Sep 12 (IANS) Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday that US special forces in southern Philippines should leave, media reported.
“The US special forces have to go,” Xinhua news agency quoted Duterte as saying in a speech at the oath taking ceremony of newly appointed officials in the presidential palace.
The President said that during his attendance at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the East Asia Summits in Laos last week, he wanted to mention the plan, but he did not raise this “out of respect.”
“I do not want rift with America, but they have to go,” he said.
Duterte said he wanted the US forces to leave Mindanao because they can be targeted by the kidnap-for-ransom groups.
Earlier, the President had said that the Philippines under his administration would pursue an independent foreign policy “without any interference” from any country.
In Vientiane, controversy hounded Duterte for making “strong remarks” against US President Barack Obama in connection with comments made by American officials on drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country.
Duterte’s remarks prompted Obama to cancel a scheduled meeting with him on the sidelines of the Asean meetings.