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US ambassador to Philippines back home for consultation
www.chinaview.cn 2004-07-22 13:16:08

    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 cooperations.

    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

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