Updated October 21, 2016 7:55am
US Ambassador Philip Goldberg on Friday said the US wants to continue its relationship with the Philippines and would like clarification on what President Rodrigo Duterte meant by breaking alliance.
The ambassador was reacting to a statement Thursday by Duterte while he was in China that he was breaking the Philippines' military and economic alliance with the US, the country's longtime ally.
"Quite frankly, I don't know what he means by a separation... Our relationship on the economic side is very strong so we need further clarification on that," Goldberg said in an interview on Unang Balita.
"The US has a very strong commitment to the Philippines. We have a defense treaty. We consider it to be a solid and solemn commitment.
But we can't say the same for the Philippine side... We have to clarify exactly what this means in policy terms," he said. "So the real question is, what does it all mean?
We have a large assistance program here," he said, citing for instance a 200-km road in Samar constructed with assistance from the Millennium Challenge Corporation, humanitarian assistance, scholarship offerings, and disaster relief operations.
"We worked very hard in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda," he added.
"I don't know what separation means because we're inextricably linked... We need clarification," Goldberg said.
"We're committed to an alliance between the two countries... From our point of view, we're not suing for divorce," he said.
The US State Department on Thursday said it will seek an explanation from the Philippines for Duterte's announcement of a "separation" from Washington, Reuters reported.
"We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from the US," said State Department spokesman John Kirby.
"It's not clear to us exactly what that means in all its ramifications."