US, Philippines agree to reduce joint exercises hinh anh 1Philippine marine troops take part in an assault exercise with US soldiers in 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Hanoi (VNA) – The Philippines and the United States have agreed to scale down joint exercises and reduce participating US troops, said a Philippine general involved in the talks between the two sides’ military officials in Manila on November 22.

The officials issued a joint statement affirming "close cooperation" between the two allies.

The joint statement does not mention any reduced level of engagement between the two militaries and confirms that there will be continued close cooperation in important areas for both countries’ national and security interests as well as in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and maritime security, he said.

According to Reuters, the anonymous general said the two allies will focus more on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations and other non-traditional military training and exercises.

The number of US troops based in the Philippines would be “small”, he said. Some 5,000 American soldiers have taken part in exercises in the
Philippines in the past two years.

“We will also see a scaling down on the number of US aircraft and troops rotated in our bases," the general added.

The Philippines has for decades been one of the United States' most important Asian allies but the relationship has been shaken by Duterte voicing disdain and mistrust of Washington.-VNA