MANILA, July 22 (Xinhuanet) -- United States Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone is due to fly back to Washington Thursday for what he described as "consultations" with the US government after Philippines withdrew its contingent from Iraq to save the life of hostage Angelo dela Cruz, reported local media.
During a meeting with some local media reporters, Ricciardone said that he
is not being recalled, and that he will stay for two-weeks in Washington, during
which time he will also take care of some personal affairs.
But the ambassador did not exclude "consequences" on relations between the
United States and the Philippines because of the pullout, although he did not
specify, according to local media reports.
The United States is angry about Philippine President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo's decision to pull out troops from Iraq, and could take
"punitive" measures against Manila, including reconsidering Philippines' status
as a "non-NATO US ally" granted by Washington in exchange for military
Analysts say that Washington cannot afford to give up this allyin the
Asia-Pacific region because of its strategic importance, and because of the
situation in the Mindanao islands in the south,where some Muslim insurgents are
reportedly linked with al-Qaida terror group.
The Philippines is the only Southeast Asian nation which offersthe United
States military bases to fight the war against terrorism.
Local newspaper Malaya reported Thursday that the initial batch of the
30-man US Special forces who will train Philippine troops in counter-terrorism
beginning Monday in Mindanao islands has arrived. Enditem