US looking to new era of 'strong' ties with PH

MANILA, Philippines – The United States looks forward to "another era of strong cooperation" as the Philippines transitions to a new leadership, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

"As our two nations continue our work to strengthen regional peace and security, combat climate change, stamp out terrorism, and fight transnational crime, we look forward to the leadership of president-elect [Rodrigo] Duterte and another era of strong cooperation," a brief statement from the US Department of State, on the occasion of the Philippines' 118th Independence Day, read.

Kerry also thanked outgoing President Benigno Aquino III "for being a strong ally and a faithful friend for the United States over the last six years."

"The United States and the Philippines share a deep commitment to democratic values, and the national elections you held last month are testament to the strength of your enduring institutions and traditions," the statement added.

The Philippines is one of the United States' closest allies in Asia. The ties between the two allies has been highlighted in recent years as China jostles for more influence and power in the region.

US President Barack Obama was the first world leader to directly talk to President-elect Duterte after his decisive win in the May 9 elections.

During their conversation May 17, the two talked about the longstanding ties between the two nations, "including our shared commitments to democracy, human rights, rule of law, and inclusive economic growth," according to the White House. –