Philippine, US military chiefs say ties remain robust

The chiefs of the Philippine armed forces and the United States Pacific Command say the two countries' military ties remain robust, with both sides committed to their alliance and cooperation on maritime security, counterterrorism and humanitarian aid.

The upbeat statement issued Tuesday at the end of a Mutual Defense Board and Security Engagement Board meeting came after threats by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to reduce military cooperation with Washington and expand security ties with China and Russia.

Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said last week there could be a "re-scoping" of some joint exercises in 2017. Tuesday's statement, however, did not mention any scaling down of military drills.

The Philippines and the U.S. are longstanding allies and signed a mutual defense treaty in 1951.