Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he did not start a fight with Washington. However, the president commented that a military agreement could cease to exist between the two countries should he remain in power.
Duterte made these remarks ahead of his first presidential visit to Japan on Tuesday. Japan has been worried about the souring relationship between Manila and Washington ever since Duterte visited Beijing last week. The trip was seen as a move away from strong ties with US and Japan.
"I look forward to the time when I no longer see any military troops or soldier in my country except the Filipino soldiers," Duterte said prior to his departure to Japan, referring to the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between Philippines and US.
However, on Monday, the divisive leader told Japanese media in Manila that alliances between Manila and Washington are still alive.
"There should be no worry about changes of alliances. I do not need to have alliances with other nations," said Duterte.
Duterte’s three-day visit to Japan is expected to bolster economic and diplomatic relations. The states have recently enjoyed a close relationship, with Japan the top foreign investor, trading partner, and development aid partner to the Philippines.
The visit may also look towards strengthening ties with the United States which has undergone a strained relationship with Manila since Duterte assumed power in June this year.
However, Duterte flummoxed the region last week when he travelled to Beijing, a move that signified stronger ties with China and away from the US-Japan alliance.