U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the American alliance with the Philippines remains "iron clad," following the election of a new Philippines president who has said his country needs to chart a course more independent of the United States.

Carter spoke in an in-flight interview with reporters traveling with him Thursday to Singapore for an annual international security conference known as the Shangri-la Dialogue.

In April, during a visit to Manila, Carter announced new measures to strengthen U.S.-Philippines defense relations. Since then, president-elect Rodrigo Dutere has said he will pursue policies making his country more independent of the United States.

Carter said the U.S. has no plans to change course.